IPC The Hospitalist Co. reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit went up more than five fold on increased revenue and stronger margins.


For the three months ended Dec. 31, IPC reported net income of $331,000 (12 cents per share), up from $63,000. The operating margin, which supplies physicians for in-hospital services, rose from 3 percent to 8 percent mainly due to decreases in physician costs and as well as other general and administrative expenses.


Revenue for the North Hollywood-based company, which went public in January, increased 33 percent to $52.6 million. The company also said it had 594,000 "patient encounters" during the fourth quarter, up 29 percent from the same period a year earlier.


For the full year, the company posted a loss of $1.1 million (-8 cents per share), on a 28 percent hike in sales to $190 million. Net income numbers from the previous year were not available.


The company added that it expects to earn between 87 cents and 94 cents per share in 2008 Wall Street analysts are expecting earnings per share of 92 cents, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Financial.


IPC also said it expects revenues for the full year to be between $239 million and $245 million ahead of analysts' predictions of $233 million. The guidance assumes 14.9 million common shares outstanding.


Shares in IPC were up 2.3 percent to $17.95 in early trading Thursday on the Nasdaq.

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