Shares of Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: THC) touched a new 52-week high of $7.27 on Monday. The company said Friday that its fourth quarter earnings more than tripled as patient visits improved signaling better consumer confidence.

The Dallas, Texas-based hospital operator posted earnings of $74 million or 14 cents a share, up from $21 million or 4 cents a share last year. Earnings from continuing operations were $52 million or 10 cents a share, higher than last year's $16 million or 3 cents a share. Revenue rose 1.8 percent to $2.30 billion. Analysts had expected profit of 8 cents a share on revenue of $2.35 billion.

Our volume trends showed significant improvement in November and December compared to the first ten months of the year. Those strengthening trends have continued into January and February 2011. Strong pricing growth and continued cost performance also contributed to a solid quarter, Tenet Healthcare Chief Executive Trevor Fetter said.

Admissions for the quarter decreased 2 percent and paying admissions declined 2.2 percent, while outpatient visits and paying outpatient visits increased 2.9 and 3.2 percent, respectively. Net patient revenues per adjusted patient day rose 2.4 percent in the quarter.

Looking ahead, Tenet Healthcare affirmed its fiscal 2011 guidance for adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.15 billion to $1.25 billion. The company also expects earnings of $165 million to $ 239 million and operating revenues of $9.70 billion to $9.90 billion for the full-year 2011. Analysts forecast revenues of $9.69 billion.

During a conference call with analysts, Trevor Fetter said there have been no new developments on the $6 cash-and-stock takeover offer from rival Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH) and reiterated the board's position that the $6 per share cash and stock takeover bid grossly undervalues Tenet.

We are confident that outpatient growth was sustainable and could even accelerate in 2011. We continue to believe that our growth trends and prospects offer compelling value for investors on a stand-alone basis, said Trevor Fetter.

Tenet stock gapped open sharply higher Friday at $7.05, compared to previous day Thursday's close of $6.97. The stock touched a new 52-week high of $7.14 during the Friday's trading session on a volume of 12.41 million shares.

But on Monday, the stock surpassed Friday's high to reach a new 52-week high of $7.27. The stock closed Monday's regular trading up 1.56 percent at $7.18 with a volume of 15.15 million shares on the NYSE. The stock traded between $3.92 and $7.27 during the past 52-week.