Skilled Healthcare seeking potential buyer

Nursing home operator Skilled Healthcare Group (NYSE: SKH) has announced it is exploring strategic options, including putting itself up for sale, Reuters reports.

The California-based Skilled has retained J.P. Morgan Securities to assist in exploring "strategic alternatives," which likely would include a sale. The company operates 77 different nursing home facilities throughout the United States.

Analysts say Skilled is particularly attractive because it owns more than 75 percent of its portfolio of facilities outright, and many are high-end properties. It boasts an annual revenue of more than $800 million a year, and has more than 14,000 employees. The company forecast 2011 earnings 25 to 30 percent higher than in 2010.

"The company is looking to take advantage of favorable market conditions, even though management remains optimistic about the outlook for the company," Oppenheimer analyst Michael Wiederhorn said, according to Reuters.

There have been two other large transactions involving nursing home chains in recent months. HCP Inc. purchased most of ManorCare's assets for $6.1 billion, while Health Care REIT purchased Genesis Healthcare for $2.4 billion.

For more info:
- read the Reuters article
- here's the Skilled press release