HCA Holdings (HCA) reported fiscal Q4 2012 results earlier today that exceeded company guidance, consensus forecasts and our highly optimistic estimate.
Company revenues totaled $9.538 billion and $8.434 billion less doubtful accounts, respectively, with EPS of $0.92. The revenue figures eclipsed our $9.201 by 3.7% and $8.326 billion by 1.3% projections, respectively (link to our earnings preview is provided here). When compared to consensus estimates of $8.254 billion, HCA results exceeded by nearly 16%.
Revenue growth benefited from increased admissions that expanded 6.0% on a reported basis and 7.1% on a same store basis. These figures exceeded our 5.7% and 6.2% respective forecasts. ER visit growth of 12.7% also exceeded our 9.0% same store estimate for the period.
On the expenses side, salaries of $3.856 billion were inline (+1.5%) with our $3.800 billion number, supplies of $1.501 projection exceeded our estimate of $1.425 by 5.3% and 'other' expenses of $1.552 were also inline with our $1.550 billion projection. The largest deviation from our model resulted from legal costs of $175 million that our model did not account for in Q4.
Our doubtful account projection of $875 million fell below the reported total of $1.1 billion for the period. While this was one of the major concerns accounted for in our modeling the figure was considerably out of line with our period projections. This variance, when coupled with the previously discussed legal charge, were the primary drivers in per share earnings falling below our $0.95 forecast by $0.03.
Though the forward guidance for fiscal 2013 has caused some concern among investors, the guidance was inline with our estimates. We had anticipated modest revenue growth of 3-4% per quarter as the company encounters more challenging comparables, with Q1 continuing to benefit from the influenza patient volume. Overall we had projected revenues of $37.7 billion in reported revenues and $33.9 billion, when doubtful accounts are backed out. This falls into the $33.5 billion to $34.5 billion company guided range.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.