West Penn shows profit for quarter

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The West Penn Allegheny Health System reported a net profit of $2.1 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, with an operating loss of $3.8 million in its audited annual report released yesterday.

For the year, which ended June 30, the health system posted a net loss of $25.2 million, compared with a $57.8 million loss in fiscal 2008 when they were forced to make a $73 million write-down, a matter which is still under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The year before that, West Penn Allegheny had recorded an $18.9 million loss.

The health system had an operating loss of $38.5 million last year, compared with $88.8 million in fiscal 2008.

Despite the continuing losses, WPAHS officials struck a positive tone, saying they'd seen increases in revenue, operating income and days cash on hand during fiscal 2009.

WPAHS had total revenues of $1.6 billion for the year, a 7 percent increase, and an improved cash position of $39.5 million, an 11 percent increase. As of June 30, the health system had 62.7 days' worth of cash on hand.

"We are pleased to be moving forward at a steady pace, especially considering the economic challenges that have confronted the entire industry over the past year," President and CEO Dr. Christopher Olivia said in a statement.

The health system also touted its recruitment of physicians into key leadership posts.

The financial report was released one day after the dismissal in federal court of a West Penn Allegheny lawsuit against Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that alleged the two had conspired to put West Penn Allegheny out of business. WPAHS officials have not said whether they would appeal that decision.

Jeff Schaub, analyst for Fitch Ratings, said he had not seen the WPAHS report, so could not comment on it.

He did say, however, that the dismissed lawsuit would not impact its BBB- rating of the health system.

"We had not factored in any kind of financial settlement" in setting that rating, Mr. Schaub said.

Steve Twedt can be reached at stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.


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