Hospice and home health care provider LHC Group (NASDAQ: LHCG) plans to expand its hospice operations to twice the number of locations it currently operates within 12 to 18 months, primarily through acquisitions.
The company’s strategy has been to acquire hospices through its extensive joint venture partnerships to build hospice density in markets in which it already has a home health presence.
“There will be an increase in M&A [during 2020], and we intend to be at the front of that,” LHC Group Chairman and CEO Keith Myers told Hospice News’ sister site Home Health Care News. “We have a separate team responsible for hospice growth. Their challenge is to double our hospice locations in the next 12 to 18 months. We have roughly 80 locations now, but we want to more aggressively move toward our goal of having hospice in every market we have home health.”
LHC Group completed numerous acquisitions during 2019. Most recently the company agreed to purchase Bryant, Ark.-based Saline Memorial Hospice with its joint venture partner LifePoint Health for an undisclosed amount.
LHC Group and Lifepoint also recently acquired Casa de la Paz Hospice in Sierra Vista, Ariz.; and St. Joseph Family Hospice in Lewiston, Idaho — in separate transactions for undisclosed amounts.
The hospice merger and acquisitions market has been thriving in recent years, with several of the largest providers prioritizing expansion of their hospice footprint through acquisitions.
Fourteen hospice transactions took place during the second quarter of 2019, up from eight hospice-related acquisitions during the first quarter, according to a report from M&A advisory firm Mertz-Taggart.
The number of Q2 transactions outstrips the previous year’s activity; seven transactions occurring in the first quarter of 2018, followed by eight in the second quarter.
The prevailing outlook is that the hospice M&A market will continue to burgeon in 2020.
“We have a senior level executive now who is focused on hospice acquisitions in markets where we have a home health presence. We are not looking to necessarily make a large hospice acquisition or anything in the $50 to $100 million, because we don’t want to buy a lot of agencies in markets where we don’t have a home health presence,” LHC Group Chairman and CEO Keith Myers told Hospice News at the Home Health Care News Summit in Chicago. “We prefer to go in and target a market and find a hospice that is a high quality, leading, reputable provider in their community and acquire that as part of a joint venture that is bolted on to our home health agencies to create a continuum of care.”