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LifePoint Hospitals 4Q profit falls 4 percent

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (AP) -- Fourth-quarter net income for LifePoint Hospitals Inc. fell 4 percent, as admissions at the company's established hospitals slipped while salaries and other expenses climbed.

The company issued a profit outlook for the year that was below analyst expectations, although it expects higher revenue than Wall Street predicts.

The Brentwood, Tenn., company said Friday that it earned $36.3 million, or 75 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That compares to earnings of $37.7 million, or 78 cents per share, in the 2011 quarter. The 2012 quarter included a loss of a penny per share from discontinued operations.

Revenue climbed 14 percent, to $893.3 million from $781.3 million.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, earnings of 66 cents per share on $859 million in revenue.

LifePoint runs 57 hospitals in rural areas in 20 states. It is the lone community hospital in most of its communities.

It said admissions at hospitals it operated in both the 2011 and 2012 quarters fell 2 percent. Inpatient surgeries tumbled 7 percent and outpatient surgeries dropped 1.6 percent. Those results don't count hospitals acquired in the past year.

The company also said the salaries and benefits it paid rose 20 percent in the quarter to $424.3 million, while the total spent on supplies rose 16 percent to $141.9 million.

For the full year, LifePoint earned $151.9 million, or $3.14 per share, on $3.39 billion in revenue.

The company said it expects 2013 earnings to range between $2.73 and $3.11 per share on revenue of $3.65 billion to $3.75 billion. Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $3.26 per share on $3.59 billion in revenue.