American Retirement shares plumb new lows on Merrill downgrade

Shares of American Retirement Corp. (ACR) sunk to new all-time lows Thursday after a Merrill Lynch analyst cut the firm’s rating

Shares of American Retirement Corp. (ACR) sunk to new all-time lows Thursday after a Merrill Lynch analyst cut the firm’s rating on the stock to “neutral” from a near-term “buy” and long-term “strong buy.”

The analyst cited a lack of progress in improving the balance sheet for the Brentwood-based operator of 66 senior living communities. American Retirement had total liabilities of $701.7 million ($360.5 million in long-term debt) and shareholders equity of $129.7 million at the end of September 2001. In the quarter ended in September, the company lost $4.4 million, or 26 cents a share, on revenue of $66 million.

American Retirement shares were down 39 cents, or 27%, to $1.05 in Thursday afternoon trading. Their 52-week high is $4.55.