Rising revenues

A rapidly growing skilled nursing operator is touting record results for 2018, achieving notable swells in its skilled nursing census numbers.

The Ensign Group on Wednesday released its final earnings results for both the fourth quarter and calendar 2018. Officials with the Mission Viejo, CA, provider highlighted an adjusted net income of $102.1 million for 2018, a 38.3% swell over the previous year.

As signs of optimism for the field, Ensign reported almost $191 million in revenue from its transitional and skilled services segments, a “dramatic” 36% increase over the previous year, officials said. Same-store skilled occupancy stood at nearly 79%, an increase of 63 basis points compared to 2017.

Ensign Executive VP and Secretary Chad Keetch noted recent reports about large, historically strong operators defaulting on rents as a result of “poorly structured” transactions, “onerous leases” and “unhealthy leverage.” However, the company — which comprises 189 SNFs — has been able to avoid any of those sticky scenarios

“We continue to believe that the dynamics in our industry, while sometimes challenging, are not nearly as difficult as some are led to believe, as a result of these self-imposed challenges that follow creative financial engineering,” he said during a call with investors Thursday.

Officials praised particular success in the states of Utah and Texas, and noted that narrowing networks of providers — becoming hospitals preferred referral partner — has helped Ensign accomplish occupancy gains in its skilled care facilities.

The company recently went on a buying binge, McKnight’s reported last fall. Company leaders said Thursday they plan to continue seeking out acquisitions in the first half of 2019.