Hospital operator Universal Health Services Inc. said Wednesday its profit increased nearly 9 percent in the third quarter as revenue edged higher.

Universal Health lowered the top end of its projected range for 2010 earnings, sending shares lower in after-hours trading.

The company reported net income of $55.6 million, or 57 cents a share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compares with net income of $51.1 million, or 52 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Excluding the impact of special items related to a legal settlement and transaction fees of UHS' acquisition of Psychiatric Solutions Inc., earnings amounted to $53.7 million, or 55 cents a share, the company said.

Revenue increased 2.2 percent to $1.32 billion from $1.30 billion, boosted by an increase in hospital admissions.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected, on average, earnings of 56 cents a share on $1.33 billion in revenue.

UHS said admissions at behavioral health hospitals grew 3.1 percent, and revenue per adjusted patient day increased 4.9 percent. At its acute care hospitals, adjusted admissions rose 1.9 percent, and revenue per adjusted patient day increased 0.4 percent.

The totals only include hospitals UHS has been operating for at least a year. Same-facility acute care revenue grew 1.9 percent, and behavioral health revenue rose 5.7 percent.

UHS lowered the high-end range of its 2010 earnings per share estimate. The company now expects earnings per share will range from $2.45 to $2.55. It had previously estimated earnings per share would be as high as $2.65.

Wall Street is anticipating 2010 earnings per share of $2.58.

Universal Health Services shares fell $2.27, or 5.9 percent, to $36.50 in aftermarket trading. The stock fell 72 cents to $38.77 during the regular session.