May 14, 2018 / 7:59 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-South African hospital operator Netcare boosted by domestic market

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May 14 (Reuters) - Netcare, South Africa’s second-largest private hospital operator, reported an 8.5 percent rise in half-year earnings on Monday, citing a strong domestic performance and its exit from the UK.

The company said that the South African healthcare market has returned to growth and it expects demand for private healthcare to remain resilient over the medium to longer term because of an ageing population.

Adjusted diluted headline earnings per share (EPS) from continuing operations, the main results metric in South Africa, rose to 87.7 cents for the six months to March 31 and the company increased its interim dividend to 44 cents from 38 cents in 2017.

Netcare has been in Britain for a decade through a controlling stake in BMI Healthcare but said in March that it would exit the UK because of difficult trading conditions and belt-tightening by the UK’s National Health Service.

In South Africa, meanwhile, Netcare registered a 3.5 percent rise in patient days, which represent customer stays in its hospitals. That helped to lift cash generation in its home market to nearly 33 percent.

The growth in patient days is expected to continue into the second half, Netcare said, but at a slower rate than in the first half.

Half-year group revenue rose 8.2 percent to 9.97 billion rand.

Netcare also said that regulators approved its purchase of Akeso Clinics, a network of 12 dedicated mental healthcare facilities.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman

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