(Adds CEO comment, updates shares)
May 4 (Reuters) - Tenet Healthcare Corp on Monday warned of a significant hit from the COVID-19 pandemic in the current quarter, even as the hospital operator's quarterly profit beat estimates due to a tax benefit from the coronavirus stimulus bill.
Patient visits to hospitals declined significantly in the second half of March due to a nationwide lockdown and as patients deferred elective care during the coronavirus outbreak, the company said.
In the quarter ended March 31, the company reported a near 5% drop in same-hospital admissions, as patient volumes were impacted starting mid-March.
U.S. health officials recommended postponing discretionary healthcare procedures during the pandemic in an attempt to save beds for COVID-19 patients, while infection-wary patients also delayed hospital visits.
Tenet said its net income from continuing operations attributable to shareholders took a 69 cents per share hit due to the impact from the virus outbreak in March.
The hospital operator has started to resume vital elective procedures and methodically re-open the hospital departments that were closed as a result of the pandemic, Tenet Chief Executive Officer Ronald Rittenmeyer said.
The company said it is aiming for stabilization and recovery in the second half of the year.
Tenet last month withdrew its previously announced outlook for the first quarter and full-year 2020, citing continued uncertainty due to the outbreak.
Dallas-based Tenet, which operates 65 hospitals and about 500 other healthcare facilities, including ambulatory surgery centers, has also furloughed around 10% of its workforce due to a drop in elective surgeries during the virus outbreak, Reuters reported last month.
For the quarter, the company reported adjusted profit from continuing operations of $1.28 per share, beating analysts' average estimate of 32 cents per share.
The beat was helped by an 81 cents per share tax benefit related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the company said.
Net income attributable to Tenet Healthcare shareholders rose to $93 million, or 88 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, compared to a loss of $12 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.
Net operating revenue fell to $4.52 billion from $4.55 billion.
Shares of the company were up 2.5% at $18.4 in extended trading. (Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)