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Hill-Rom profit up 40 percent

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Quarterly profit at Batesville-based Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. rose 40 percent over the same period a year ago and hit analysts’ estimates, the company announced late Wednesday.

After reporting the results for its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, the company raised its profit forecast for its full fiscal year.

The maker of hospital beds and equipment earned $19.9 million in the quarter, up from $14.2 million in the same period a year ago.

On a per-share basis, Hill-Rom earned 31 cents, up from 23 cents last year.

Hill-Rom’s quarterly revenue rose a modest 1.1 percent, to $355 million. Excluding gains from more favorable exchange rates, Hill-Rom’s revenue actually fell by 1.7 percent.

But the company was able to grow profit by reducing its cost of goods sold by 11 percent, which drove up gross profit from 43.4 percent a year ago to 48.1 percent this year.

"We have seen demand levels stabilize over the past several quarters, and despite a challenging macro-economic environment, we achieved solid earnings improvement through margin expansion across all of our major business units,” said John J. Greisch, president and CEO of Hill-Rom, in a statement. “Our improved margins have enabled us to increase investments in new product development and sales channels, while accelerating earnings."

For the full fiscal year, Hill-Rom expects to earn profit ranging from $1.24 to $1.36 per share. In November, Hill-Rom had predicted full-year earnings of $1.20 to $1.36 per share.

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