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Hill-Rom profit drops, beat expectations

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Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. topped analysts' expectations in its fiscal third quarter even as hospital-spending cuts clipped its revenue by 9 percent, the company announced late yesterday.

The Batesville-based maker of hospital equipment reported profit of $20.2 million, or 32 cents per share, in the period ended June 30. The numbers excluded several charges and marked a 6-percent decline from the same quarter a year earlier, when Hill-Rom earned $21.5 million, or 34 cents per share.

Analysts expected earnings of 28 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter fell nearly 9 percent, to $334.7 million, compared with the same period last year.

However, President and CEO Peter H. Soderberg noted the earnings matched its fiscal second-quarter performance.

"While we cannot predict the timing of when hospitals and other providers around the world will return to more normalized capital acquisition behavior, we are using this recessionary period ... to prepare the company for strong and profitable growth once demand for our products inevitably return," Soderberg said.

Hill-Rom bumped up the bottom end of its profit forecast for the year. It now expects to earn from $1.03 per share to $1.13 per share. The company had anticipated earning 85 cents to $1.15.

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