A low rate of new supply, high levels of demand, greater resident revenue and a growing occupancy rate together have Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) CEO Cindy Baier excited about 2024.
Over the last year, Baier said the Brentwood, Tennessee-based operator has been able to lay a foundation that “sets the stage for 2024 to be a great year” after months of occupancy gains and revenue growth.
Big initiatives for Brookdale in 2023 have included further “leaning in” to its HealthPlus program, through which the operator has reduced hospitalizations and urgent visits compared to similar communities.
The program has RN care coordinators using “state-of-the-art tools and technologies to help our residents better manage their chronic conditions,” Baier said during a presentation Wednesday at the 2023 Stephens Annual Investment Conference.
“If you think about what we can do for the benefit of the seniors that we serve, allowing them to manage their health in the best way that they possibly can and at the same time avoiding these negative health outcomes – that is something that’s really exciting,” she said.
Brookdale Senior Living is the nation’s largest senior living operator with more than 670 communities across the U.S.
Other bright spots included the company’s weighted average census, which registered at 77.6% in the third quarter of 2023. Currently, the company’s average number of move-ins is higher than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Baier also pointed out that, thanks to its ability to grow resident rates, the company “with a lower occupancy than we’ve ever had before, has had five quarters of RevPAR above our pre-pandemic levels.”
“If you think about the fact that some of our expenses have been elevated, partially because of the occupancy level, I’m pretty optimistic about what we can do,” she added.
A little less than three-fourths of the Brookdale portfolio is memory care and assisted living – the result of a deliberate strategy in recent years. That will also help buoy the company’s operations in the years to come, according to Baier.
“We have a multi-year period where the supply/demand and macroeconomic conditions are so very favorable, and at the same time, we invested early in health care,” Baier said. “So we’re right where the market needs us to be at the time when it needs us most.”
Brookdale’s NOI margins currently stand at about 25%, but Brookdale management sees an opportunity in the future to get back to the company’s historical margins north of 30%.
“As we think about getting back to that additional revenue growth and the flow through that margin with the high-fixed cost business, we have a significant amount of opportunity in front of us,” said Brookdale CFO Dawn Kussow.