CHICAGO -- Kemper Securities Inc. has identified 100 health-care facilities that the firm considers fiscally strong enough to withstand whatever national health-care reform may bring.
Troy A. Gerleman, vice president of tax-exempt fixed-income research at Kemper, said the analysis did not specifically factor in the potential effects of health-care reform, but was intended to reassure investors that there are strong hospital bonds on the market as the nation awaits the Clinton administration's proposals.
"I want it to be used for a guide to make people aware there are so many hospitals with quality performance," Gerleman said.
Gerleman said the institutions in the analysis were compared with national medians for debt service coverage, profit margins, days of cash on hand, and ratios of cash flow to debt and of debt to capital.
"One thing the hospitals in this group have in common is that they all exceeded median values in each category," Gerleman said. "Financially, all are stronger performers than average."
Kemper began the analysis with fiscal 1992 financial data from 1,102 health-care facilities. From that list, Kemper dropped 242 facilities that had less than $10 million of outstanding long-term debt because their bonds were considered too scarce.
Health-care facilities with data below the national medians also were dropped from the analysis, as were institutions whose fiscal 1992 net income had fallen from their fiscal 1991 income, Gerleman said.
In a special report, Kemper said the 100 facilities in the final analysis have debt service coverage ranging from 3.4 times to 26 times; cash flow to overall debt ratios from 19.2% to 120.2%; historically healthy margins; reasonable relative debt burdens; and well over three months of cash on hand.
Gerleman said national reforms could cause a "shakeout" in the hospital industry, depending on the type of reimbursement system included in a national health-care reform plan. To prepare for a post-reform environment, Gerleman said, health-care facilities should be able to "pad fund balances and build liquidity."
"That's why it's important to look at hospitals with strong balance sheets," Gerleman said.
He said the analysis is useful for investors of all classes because it includes hospitals with bond ratings that range from "double-A's to triple-B's."
Gerleman pointed out that the analysis does not take into account nonquantifiable issues, such as competition or management quality.
The analysis is not a definitive study of healthy hospitals in the nation, Gerleman said, noting that the financially strong Mayo Foundation in Rochester, Minn., did not make the Kemper list because its net income decreased in 1992 from 1991.
In conducting its analysis, Kemper used the Merritt System, a data base on hospitals and multi-hospital systems, compiled by the Van Kampen Merritt Investment Advisory Corp.