Why HCA Healthcare Earnings Aren’t Moving Investors

HCA Healthcare Inc. (NYSE: HCA) reported third-quarter 2020 results before markets opened Monday. The hospital operator reported adjusted diluted quarterly earnings per share (EPS) of $1.95 on revenues of $13.3 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $2.23 on revenues of $12.7 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $2.32 on revenues of $12.9 billion.

In the second quarter of this year, HCA reported $822 million in profit from a federal CARES Act stimulus grant of about $6 billion. The company announced earlier this month that it would “return or repay” the full amount of the grant. The repayment is expected to be made from available cash and future operating cash flow. Returning the $822 million profit reported in the prior quarter reduces second-quarter EPS by $1.72.

In the third quarter, same-facility admissions and equivalent admissions declined 3.8% and 9.0%, respectively. Same-facility emergency room visits declined by 20.3% year over year and same-facility inpatient and outpatient surgeries were down 6.8% and 6.3%, respectively. Revenue per equivalent admission rose by 14.8% year over year, a result of “increases in acuity of patients treated and favorable payer mix in the quarter.”

Including federal stimulus payments, operating cash flow in the first nine months of 2020 totaled $12.82 billion. Backing out the payments reduces operating cash flow by $6.1 billion to $6.7 billion. In the first nine months of last year, operating cash flow totaled $5.1 billion. Third-quarter operating cash flow totaled $2.7 billion, more than half the total for the first nine months of the year.

HCA reported cash and equivalents of $6.6 billion at the end of the third quarter and total long-term debt of $30.8 billion. Interest expense in the quarter totaled $1.2 billion.

HCA Healthcare stock traded down 2.9% to $132.70 early Monday. The 52-week range is $58.38 to $151.97. Since announcing that it would return the federal stimulus funds, HCA shares have added nearly $5.00, or about 3.8%.

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