Naples-based hospital operator Health Management Associates Inc. saw its profits drop in the first quarter, breaking a four-quarter trend of increases.
The company reported earnings of nearly $37.7 million, or 15 cents a share, for the quarter. That was down more than 32 percent from profits of $55.5 million, or 22 cents, a year ago.
Net revenue rose more than 18 percent to nearly $1.49 billion in the quarter, when compared to a year ago.
HMA fell short of Wall Street's expectations. On average, analysts expected profits of 22 cents a share on revenues of $1.64 billion.
Still, Gary D. Newsome, the company's president and CEO, described it as a great quarter and a "great start to 2012, with revenue up 18.4 percent year-over year," in a company statement.
"Our operating strategy continued to generate strong results in the first quarter as we managed our resources relative to the volume and acuity of our patients," he said. "We believe that there are further improvement opportunities in our hospitals as we continue to affect change in our processes and systems in emergency room operations, physician recruitment and market service development. In addition, our partnership development pipeline continues to be extremely active."
HMA announced its earnings after the market closed on Monday. Its shares closed down by 10 cents a share at $7.15. Shares lost another 15 cents in after-hours trading.
The company will host a conference call today at 11 a.m. to discuss its financial results in more detail.
Some of the highlights of the quarter include a 5.9 percent increase in admissions and a 5.7 percent increase in same-hospital net revenue. Same hospitals are ones that have been open at least a year.
HMA, through its subsidiaries operates 71 hospitals, with about 10,600 licensed beds in non-urban communities throughout the U.S. Locally, those hospitals include Physicians Regional-Pine Ridge and Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard in Collier County.