Pennant Group Anticipates Strong Hospice Growth in 2020

Hospice, home health and senior living provider the Pennant Group (NASDAQ: PNTG) saw significant growth in its hospice operations during 2019 and expects that trend to continue through 2020. 

The company’s hospice admissions rose 30% during 2019, coupled with a 26% increase in average daily census. The company’s fourth quarter 2019 average daily hospice census saw a 33% increase from the prior year’s Q4. The segment was also buoyed by a 24% bump in home health admissions. The home health and hospice segment earned nearly $207 million last year. 

“Both of our operating segments have significant upside potential, and we continue to work tirelessly to support our local operators as they face the opportunities and challenges in their respective local markets,” Pennant CEO Danny Walker said in an earnings conference call. “The majority of our growth we would expect to be in the home health and hospice arena based on where our strongest performance is coming from, and we will invest where our strength is.”

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Pennant, which owns and operates hospice provider Cornerstone Healthcare, was spun in 2019 off from The Ensign Group (NASDAQ: ENSG). Pennant retained Ensign’s hospice, home health and senior living operations. As part of the spin off, Ensign’s stockholders received one share of Pennant common stock for every two shares of Ensign common stock they held at the end of the business day on September 20, 2019.

Pennant operates 65 home health and hospice agencies, 51 senior living operations, and mobile diagnostics and lab operations located across 14 states, with 23 of the senior living assets subject to leases with third-party landlords, as well as mobile diagnostic services and clinical laboratory operations.

Pennant also manages 28 senior living communities pursuant to a new, long-term triple-net leases with Ensign subsidiaries.

Pennant Group subsidiary Cornerstone Healthcare recently entered the Montana market with the purchase of Hospice of Missoula for an undisclosed amount. 

“It’s a relatively small agency with an [average daily census] in the 30-to-40 range. It’s a really unique opportunity for us to enter the state of Montana. It’s got a very strong clinical team, and the way licensing works there offers opportunity for expansion to other communities around the state,” Walker said.

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