Tenet Healthcare Corp. is expected to win a proxy challenge when shareholders gather for the Santa Barbara-based company's annual meeting Wednesday. M. Lee Pearce, a Miami physician who owns about 250,000 shares, or less than 1%, of Tenet's stock, filed a proxy challenge Aug. 21 with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Tenet is bloated with managers and hasn't performed as well as competitors. Initially, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the largest public pension fund which owns 1.8 million shares of Tenet stock, said it would back Pearce. But on Friday the pension fund said it would support the company's slate of nominees for director. The reversal came three days after Tenet reported higher fiscal first-quarter profit of $154 million, or 48 cents a share, versus $128 million, or 39 cents, a year earlier. In his filing, Pearce had criticized the management of the No. 2 U.S. hospital operator for posting smaller profit than competitors since 1997, carrying a higher debt load and losing $100 million a year on physician practices it owned. Pearce is seeking to oust Chief Executive Jeffrey Barbakow and two other board members. Tenet shares have risen about 60% this year. On Friday, they closed down 63 cents at $37.88 on the NYSE.