It’s true that it’s more important how you finish a race than how you start it. But if the opening sprint of a new public player in the long-term care sector is any indication, it’s going to be a leader to watch for quite a while.

The PACS Group held the company’s first-ever earnings call Tuesday and company leaders gave fans plenty to smile about.

Fresh off an eye-popping $423 million initial public offering, the provider giant plowed ahead with the call sooner than some had expected. The public airing was in addition to some other very public appearances during which the company’s top execs talked up PACS with pride.

Perhaps not surprisingly, CEO Jason Murray told earnings call listeners glowingly of “strong” results and a “robust acquisition pipeline” at the ready. It wasn’t necessarily shocking narrative to some. But it was absent any conservative “wait-and-see” talk or mentions of “keeping powder dry for the future” euphemisms, so it made for intriguing stuff.

The PACS Group was founded in 2013, so it’s not a new company, per se. But its adventurous effort to go public does make it a “new kid on the block” in that regard. Given all of the sector’s general hand-wringing and public pearl-clutching lately, the decision was unreal to many.

With more than 200 facilities, most of them skilled nursing, however, PACS is definitely for real. And you’re liable to find one of its operations somewhere relatively close to wherever you are. Some 109 are in California, while others are sprinkled throughout the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest.

Getting back to the theme of recent tough times, this holding group has added — that’s right, added — 68  facilities in a little over a year. In raw numbers, that’s more than 5,000 additional beds. Just in case anyone is wondering if these folks are merely playing at the fringes, the last 15 months also has seen a dozen new real estate pickups.

Three-fourths of its facilities are in the 4-star and 5-star range, by the way, an indicator that is far above the national average.

While they can’t know how long this run will last, or how fast it will remain, investors are smiling so far. PACS’ earnings per share were more than 30% higher in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

As some, maybe even many, long-term care operators may be contemplating their potential exits from the sector, we know of at least one now that is basking in its grand entrance. Spreading hope to any who are looking for it.

James M. Berklan is McKnight’s Long-Term Care News’ Executive Editor and a Best Commentary award winner in the 2024 Neal Awards, which are given annually to recognize the nation’s best specialized business journalism.Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.