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Hill-Rom's fourth quarter profit exceeds expectations

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Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. topped analysts’ expectations as profit grew by double digits in its fourth quarter, the company announced late Wednesday.

The Batesville-based maker of hospital equipment reported profit of $26.4 million, or 42 cents per share, in the period ended Sept. 30.

The numbers excluded acquisition-related charges and marked an 11-percent increase from the same quarter a year earlier, when Hill-Rom earned $23.8 million, or 38 cents a share.

Analysts expected earnings of 28 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter fell 14.4 percent, to $363.3 million, compared with the same period last year.

Lower costs for commodities and other items offset the revenue decline, the company said. Hill-Rom also has been cutting costs, including moving manufacturing to low-cost regions, and diversifying its business.

“The global recession, uncertainty related to health care reform in the U.S. and health care spending pressures in other major countries continue to influence purchasing decisions of customers,” Hill-Rom President and CEO Peter H. Soderberg said in a prepared statement. “Accordingly, we have remained conservative regarding the speed of recovery.”

For its entire fiscal year, Hill-Rom reported a loss of $405 million, or $6.47 cents per share, compared with a profit of $67.1 million, or $1.07 per share, in fiscal 2008.

Revenue for the fiscal year fell 9 percent, to $1.3 billion.

Hill-Rom expects 2010 profit in the range of $124 million to $142 million, on revenue of $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion, translating to earnings per share of between $1.20 and $1.36.

“Our outlook for 2010 contemplates low single-digit market growth, as well as some continued improvement in market share as new product introductions across the portfolio take hold,” Soderberg said.

Shares of Hill-Rom were up 7 percent, to $23.12, in Thursday morning trading.


 

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