Naples-based hospital operator Health Management Associates Inc., which this month bought Bayfront Health in downtown St. Petersburg, saw its shares sink 12 percent in after-hours trading. The sharp dip came in response to HMA's announcing it was reducing its outlook for 2013 earnings and revenue, citing weak patient admissions in the first quarter of the year.
Hospital stocks have gained sharply this year in anticipation of an influx of new patients with health insurance obtained through exchanges set to go online in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. HMA chief executive Gary Newsome said that since the first quarter is typically the busiest of the year, the hospital operator hired extra staff. But the anticipated increase didn't happen. "We have reduced our costs accordingly, going forward," he said. HMA shares fell in after-hours trading by $1.52 to $11.07 by 4:34 p.m. after closing at $12.59. Company shares have gained 78 percent in the past 12 months.