Ensign Group reports record fourth quarter earnings

The Ensign Group, which operates skilled nursing, senior living, rehabilitative care and assisted living facilities, on Wednesday reported record fourth quarter earnings.

The San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based company reported adjusted net income of $44.9 million for the quarter, up 33.9% from the previous year, and $174.6 million for the year, an increase of 74.8% from 2020, the company said.

Revenue rose 12% during the fourth quarter to $629 million and 18% year-over-year to $2.4 billion, the company said. Expenses were $573.2 million during the fourth quarter, an increase of 10.1% from the previous fourth quarter, and were $2.2 billion for the year, up 14.3% from the previous year.

“In spite of the continued challenges brought on as the result of the ongoing global pandemic, we are very happy to report another record quarter as we achieved our highest adjusted earnings per share in our history,” Ensign CEO Barry Port said in a prepared statement.

Ensign attributed the growth to improvements in its skilled mix—the number of Medicare and managed Medicare patients divided by the number of patient days—admissions trends, greater access to COVID-19 testing, increased managed care revenues, cost saving initiatives, improved cash collections, sequestration suspension and improved Medicaid funding in certain states.

“During this latest and most significant surge in COVID-19 positivity rates we’ve seen to date, especially in Texas, Arizona and California, we saw an increase in skilled mix. However, unlike in prior quarters where COVID surges were accompanied by occupancy declines, during the fourth quarter we saw occupancies remain flat. While we have ground to make up to get back to pre-COVID occupancies, the increase in our skilled mix has more than made up for the temporary decline in occupancy,” Port said.

Ensign patient volumes increased 10.8% for Medicare patients from the third to fourth quarter and 5.7% for managed care patients from the third to fourth quarter, the company said.

“This improvement in our admissions trends not only gives us great confidence that we can continue to perform well as the pandemic stubbornly persists in many of our largest markets, but it also gives us confidence that we are in an excellent position to see occupancies normalize to pre-pandemic levels even while the pandemic continues to impact us and our patients.” Port said.

Port noted that Ensign earnings do not include any CARES Act Provider Relief Funds, which the company has returned to the government.

Ensign reaffirmed its guidance for 2021, predicting annual revenue of $2.62 billion to $2.69 billion.

Ensign has 232 facilities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevasa, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

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