Hospital chain Spire profit rises on cost-cuts, NHS boost

Britain's Spire Healthcare Group Plc reported on Monday a first-half profit compared with a loss last year, helped by cost-cutting measures and better-than-expected revenue from the National Health Service (NHS) referrals.

Adds details on earnings, comments from executive and analyst, background

Sept 16 (Reuters) - Britain's Spire Healthcare Group Plc SPI.L reported on Monday a first-half profit compared with a loss last year, helped by cost-cutting measures and better-than-expected revenue from the National Health Service (NHS) referrals.

The hospital operator was hit by lower revenue from the NHS last year, while its profit plunged as budget cuts at state-run health service led to fewer referrals to big private healthcare providers, including Spire.

The company, which has maintained its full-year outlook, has been working on reducing capital spending and focussing on patients paying for their own treatments to revive its fortunes.

"We promised 2019 would be a year of stabilisation with revenue growth, continued quality improvement, cash generation and net debt reduction. All have been achieved in the first half," Chief Executive Officer Justin Ash said.

Spire's pretax profit, for the six months ended June 30, came in at 9.6 million pounds ($11.97 million), compared with a loss of 2.2 million pounds last year.

Capital expenditure in the reported period dived 41.2%.

The company's growth was also aided by its marketing campaigns, which helped Spire attract more private-insurance providers and self-pay customers.

"While today's update was very welcome given its patchy track record of earnings delivery, we still require more confidence that the market backdrop has stabilised before turning positive," Liberum analysts said in a note.

($1 = 0.8017 pounds)

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

((Pushkala.A@thomsonreuters.com; Twitter: @pushkala_a; within UK: +44 20 7542 1810, outside UK: +91 80 6749 6633;))

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