HCA Healthcare's share price up after it beats Q1 expectations

"The results for the quarter were driven by strong revenue growth and improvements in operating margin," said HCA CEO Samuel Hazen in a call with analysts on the health system's first-quarter earnings this week. (HCA Healthcare)

Wall Street responded favorably to the latest earnings report from HCA Healthcare even as the health system giant reported a slight dip in profits in the first quarter. 

HCA Healthcare reported net income of about $1 billion, or $2.97 per diluted share, in the first quarter, down from $1.1 billion, or $3.18 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2018.  During that time, it also reported its revenues jumped nearly 10% to $12.5 billion in the first quarter, compared to $11.4 billion in the first quarter of 2018.

The company's share price rose about 2% on Tuesday after the earnings report.

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"The results for the quarter were driven by strong revenue growth and improvements in operating margin," said HCA CEO Samuel Hazen in a call with analysts. "Revenue grew by almost $1.1 billion, close to 10% in the quarter. This growth was driven by volume growth in commercial business, volume growth in more complex services and new acquisitions."

RELATED: HCA's incoming CEO offers his take on the future of the health giant as income jumps in third quarter

But for funding employee retirement matching—an expense to the tune of $428 million—year-over-year comparisons would have been much more favorable, officials said.

HCA increased its 2019 guidance with adjusted EBITDA expected to range between $9.45 billion and $9.85 billion and earnings per share expected to range between $9.80 and $10.40 per diluted share. HCA also declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.40 per share on the company’s common stock. 

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