The Ensign Group is “very pleased” with the results of the spinoff of The Pennant Group, which focuses on senior living, home health and hospice, Ensign Chief Investment Officer Chad Keetch said Thursday.

Eagle, ID, Pennant’s spin off from San Juan Capistrano, CA-based Ensign in October included substantially all of Ensign’s former independent living, assisted living and memory care operations (Pinnacle Senior Living), plus its home health and hospice operations (Cornerstone Healthcare). Pennant will report its financial results in its own earnings call, for which the date and time have not been announced yet.

“The separation of Pennant Group from Ensign has gone very well,” Keetch said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday. “We continue to remain closely connected to our Pennant partners and continue to work together as we seek ways to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our patients, payers and other providers within the continuum of care.”

As for Ensign, the company achieved its highest earnings per share in its history — adjusted earnings per share of $0.60 — during the quarter, “even without the significantly positive contribution of the very healthy operations of the Pennant Group,” Ensign CEO Barry Port said on the call. “Most of the improvement we experienced this year came from strong growth in occupancy, in skilled mix days and revenue across same-store, transitioning and newly acquired operations,” he added.

In the quarter, Port said in related remarks in a press release, Ensign “more than replaced Pennant’s historical earnings, much sooner than anticipated, and we expect that trend to accelerate into 2020. We have not even come close to reaching our full potential.”

Despite the spinoff, Ensign continues to invest in senior living properties. In the fourth quarter and since, for instance, the company’s affiliates acquired:

  • St. Joseph’s Villa Independent Living, a 58-unit operation in Salt Lake City;
  • Crestwood Health and Rehabilitation Center, a Willis Point, TX, skilled nursing facility with 112 skilled nursing beds and an assisted living community with 36 assisted living units, located; and
  • The Healthcare Center at Patriot Heights, a healthcare campus in San Antonio with 59 skilled nursing beds and 158 independent living units.  

Additionally, Ensign acquired 10 skilled nursing facilities in that time period..

“Of the 13 acquisitions, eight included the purchase of real estate,” Keetch said. “We now own 92 real estate assets and continue to methodically add value to that real estate by improving the operating results in our own operations and by acquiring additional real estate assets.”

Ensign’s portfolio now contains 225 skilled nursing operations, 23 of which also include senior living operations, across 14 states. Of its 92 owned real estate assets, the company operates 62.

Ensign, Keetch said, continues to actively seek transactions to acquire real estate and to lease both well-performing and struggling skilled nursing, senior living and other healthcare-related businesses in new and existing markets.

For additional coverage of the earnings call, see McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

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