IPC The Hospitalist 3Q earns up, but guides lower

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- IPC The Hospitalist Company Inc. said Thursday that its net income rose 21 percent in the third quarter as it added more providers. But it lowered its full-year earnings expectations because it's leaving some facilities and expects fewer patients in others.

Earnings in the July-September quarter came to $7.8 million, or 46 cents per share, from $6.5 million, or 38 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet expected higher profit of 49 cents per share.

Revenue rose 12 percent to $127.7 million. Analysts had forecast $130.1 million.

The North Hollywood, Calif., company, which provides medical services in 28 states, said patient encounters grew 13 percent to 1.3 million. But revenue per patient fell 2.4 percent as the company's physicians focused more on post-acute care _ what patients need after being discharged from hospitals _ than acute care, when severe cases typically require immediate treatment.

Administrative expenses rose 14 percent to $20.7 million because of the cost of opening new regional offices.

The Hospitalist lowered its guidance because of its plan to leave some contracted facilities and general softness in patient counts at U.S. hospitals.

It now expects full-year earnings between $1.88 and $1.92, down from $1.96 to $2.06. Analysts expect $2 per share. It narrowed its full-year revenue forecast to $520 million to $524 million, from its earlier estimate of $520 million to $530 million. Analysts expect $522.8 million.

The Hospitalist shares dropped 17 cents to $41.73 in after-hours trading. They had risen 22 cents to close at $41.90 before results were released.