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LifePoint may eye new acquisitions after quiet year

April 29, 2017

LifePoint Health has gone more than a year since acquiring a hospital, but its earlier shopping spree guided the health system to higher earnings and revenue in the first quarter.

Investor-owned LifePoint typically buys not-for-profit hospital that can be turned around through the installation of new quality controls, business practices and expansion of patient access points in the community.

The chain has gone more than a year since acquiring a hospital, a “natural pause” after a two-year shopping spree between 2014 and 2016, according to CEO Bill Carpenter on Friday’s first quarter earnings call with analysts.

LifePoint bought 17 hospitals between 2014 and 2016, while divesting five others, the company said.

The lull has given LifePoint a chance to improve performance at those acquisitions, adding about $2.4 billion in annual revenue to Brentwood, Tenn.-based LifePoint.

The company reported net income of $64 million on revenue of $1.63 billion in the first quarter compared with net income of $23.9 million on revenue of $1.58 billion in the year-earlier quarter.

LifePoint operates hospitals on 72 campuses, including 14 through a joint venture with Duke University Health System known as Duke LifePoint.

Now, Carpenter says LifePoint has a pipeline of hospitals it’s considering acquiring. It’s deliberately researching whether potential targets meet their criteria—it’s seeking hospitals in growing markets that can produce double-digit margins in three years via new capital investment and improved business practices, Carpenter said during the earnings call.

That approach is characterized by “great discipline,” Carpenter said.

The chain derives about 39% of revenue from in-patient volume and 61% from outpatient.

On occasion, LifePoint will buy hospitals owned by other for-profits if they have strong strategic importance such as providing geographic reach. That was the case in late 2015 when Duke LifePoint bought two hospitals in North Carolina, Duke’s home market, from Tenet Healthcare. The hospitals are 137-bed Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford and 355-bed Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory.

LifePoint’s capital budget in 2017 is $68 million, lower than it will be in subsequent years as Duke LifePoint builds a replacement hospital in Marquette, Mich., and expands other facilities, CFO Michael Coggin said.

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