National HealthCare Corp. :NHC-US: Earnings Analysis: 2016 By the Numbers : February 22, 2017

National HealthCare Corp. reports financial results for the year ended December 31, 2016.

We analyze the earnings along side the following peers of National HealthCare Corp. – Ensign Group, Inc. (ENSG-US) that have also reported for this period.


  • Gross margins narrowed from 7.69% to 6.96% compared to the same period last year, operating (EBITDA) margins now 11.17% from 11.79%.
  • Year-on-year change in operating cash flow of 9.03% is about the same as the change in earnings, likely no significant movement in accruals or reserves.
  • Narrowing of operating margins contributed to decline in earnings.

The table below shows the preliminary results and recent trends for key metrics such as revenues and net income growth:

2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
Relevant Numbers (Annual)
Revenues 926.64 906.62 871.68 788.96 761.26
Revenue Growth (YOY) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Earnings 50.54 53.14 53.37 64.61 57.96
Earnings Growth (YOY) -4.9 -0.42 -17.4 11.48 -9.54
Net Margin 5.45 5.86 6.12 8.19 7.61
EPS 3.32 3.2 3.14 3.87 3.49
Return on Equity 7.77 6.79 6.29 8.3 7.75
Return on Assets 4.67 5.01 5.19 6.8 6.49

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Earnings Growth Analysis

The company’s year-on-year decline in earnings was influenced by a weakening in gross margins from 7.69% to 6.96%, as well as issues with cost controls. As a result, operating margins (EBITDA margins) went from 11.79% to 11.17% in this time frame. For comparison, gross margins were 7.69% and EBITDA margins were 11.79% in the previous period.

Gross Margin Versus EBITDA Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Differentiated; Low Cost, Commodity; Low Cost, Commodity; High Cost, Differentiated; High Cost

Gross Margin Trend

Companies sometimes sacrifice improvements in revenues and margins in order to extend friendlier terms to customers and vendors. Capital Cube probes for such activity by comparing the changes in gross margins with any changes in working capital. If the gross margins improved without a worsening of working capital, it is possible that the company’s performance is a result of truly delivering in the marketplace and not simply an accounting prop-up using the balance sheet.

Gross Margin History
Working Capital Days History

NHC-US‘s decline in gross margins were offset by some improvements on the balance sheet. The management of working capital, for example, shows progress. The company’s working capital days have fallen to 52.82 days from 53.80 days for the same period last year. This leads Capital Cube to conclude that the gross margin decline is not altogether bad.

Gross Margin Versus Working Capital Days

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Customer Financed, Cash Starved, Supplier Financed, Cash Rich

Cash Versus Earnings – Sustainable Performance?

It is important to examine a company�s cash versus earnings numbers to gauge whether its performance is sustainable.

NHC-US‘s change in operating cash flow of 9.03% compared to the same period last year is about the same as its change in earnings this period. Additionally, this change in operating cash flow is about average among its peer group. This suggests that the company did not use accruals or reserves to manage earnings this period, and that, all else being equal, the earnings number is sustainable.

Operating Cash Flow Growth Versus Earnings Growth

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Cash Flow based Earnings, Likely Non-cash Earnings, Low Cash Flow Base, Likely Undeclared Earnings


The company’s decline in earnings has been influenced by the following factors: (1) Decline in operating margins (EBIT margins) from 7.69% to 6.96% and (2) one-time items that contributed to a decrease in pretax margins from 9.41% to 8.66%

EBIT Margin Versus PreTax Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Operation driven Earnings, One-time Favorables, Low Earnings Base, One-time Unfavorables
EBIT Margin History
PreTax Margin History

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Company Profile

National HealthCare Corp. engages in the operation of health care centers. It provides sub and post-acute nursing care, intermediate nursing care, rehabilitative care, senior living services and home health care services. The company also offers management services, accounting and financial services and insurance services to third party owners of health care facilities. National HealthCare was founded by Carl E. Adams in 1971 and is headquartered in Murfreesboro, TN.

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