HCA Q2 profit increases as patients return to hospitals

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That rebound happened largely before COVID-19 cases started climbing around the country over the past few weeks, drawing concern from federal officials and epidemiologists. The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases has nearly tripled over the past two weeks to 34,730 as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. COVID-19 cases are now increasing in nearly every state as a highly contagious virus variant spreads, leaving millions of still unvaccinated people vulnerable to serious illness or hospitalization.

HCA Healthcare said Tuesday that admissions to its hospitals soared while COVID-19 related care fell in the three-month window that ended June 30. That contributed to better-than-expected earnings in the quarter and a raised forecast for 2021. “With the effects of the pandemic moderating … we experienced a strong rebound in demand for services,” CEO Sam Hazen said. Even so, company officials told analysts on Tuesday that they expect demand for their services to remain strong throughout the year. That demand has been fueled in part by growth in employment and insurance coverage.

About 68% of U.S. adults also have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, before vaccines were authorized for emergency use, patients stayed home or cancelled elective surgeries and other care.

HCA runs 187 hospitals as well as hundreds of surgery centers, free-standing emergency rooms and clinics in 20 states and the United Kingdom. The company said Tuesday that inpatient surgeries at established locations grew 15% compared to last year’s second quarter, and outpatient surgeries soared more than 52%. Meanwhile, COVID-19 patient admissions fell to 3% of total admissions during the quarter. That’s down from 10% in the first quarter.

Overall, HCA’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization grew about 21% to $3.22 billion. That compares to $2.67 billion in last year’s quarter, when the company also booked $822 million in government stimulus income that it has since paid back. Adjusted earnings totaled $4.37 per share in this year’s second quarter, and revenue grew 30% to $14.44 billion. Analysts expected, on average, earnings of $3.16 per share on $13.61 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

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