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(Reuters) – HCA Healthcare Inc on Friday reported lower-than-expected third-quarter revenue as hospital admissions related to COVID-19 dropped, dragging its shares nearly 5% lower in premarket trade.

The decline in COVID-related admissions, which had peaked due to the Delta variant-led wave last year, led to a 1.5% drop in overall same facility admissions, cymbalta bipolaire and a 3.5% fall in same facility revenue per equivalent admission.

Total revenue fell 2% to $14.97 billion, falling short of analysts’ estimates of $15 billion, as per Refinitiv IBES data.While COVID-hospitalizations have fluctuated with the wave of cases, the length of stays has been lower as the Omicron variant has been seen to be milder than earlier strains.

A similar trend was also seen at rival Tenet Healthcare Corp, which also saw a decline in same-hospital admissions and revenue. Shares of Tenet were down 21% premarket.

Morningstar Research Services analyst Julie Utterback said considering macroeconomic uncertainty that is mounting, investors appear to be betting that hospitals will face significant challenges as she expects them to “be on the front lines of any economic pressures within the healthcare sector”.

HCA’s quarterly profit, however, beat estimates aided by easing labor costs.

The company’s costs related to salaries and benefits dropped 2.7%, or nearly $200 million, at $6.90 billion, indicating that the worst of the labor costs was behind it.

Excluding one-off items, HCA reported earnings of $3.93 per share, above estimates of $3.88 per share.

(Reporting by Leroy Leo and Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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