Updated at 2:40 p.m. with company comment
A push by a pension fund to reform the board structure of nursing home chain National HealthCare Corp. has fallen short, but not by as much as many other investors' proposals.
Shareholders of Murfreesboro-based NHC voted Thursday not to declassify the company's board by a margin of a little more than 2:1. Those who voted in favor of the Firefighters’ Pension System of the City of Kansas City proposal totaled 32 percent of the votes cast  and almost 29 percent of the company's total shares outstanding.
While that counts as a clear defeat, it's worth pointing out that NHC's directors — who opposed declassification  — and officers own more than 20 percent of the company. Take them out of the picture and the vote becomes much tighter, suggesting many of NHC's largest institutional investors, led by T. Rowe Price, JPMorgan and mutual fund giant Vanguard, voted to declassify.
NHC Senior Vice President Gerald Coggin told NashvillePost.com the board stands behind its position to oppose declassification and pointed to the 2:1 ratio.
"We'll take that into consideration and continue as we are," Coggin said.
Separately, NHC also reported first-quarter earnings of $10.5 million, down significantly from last year's numbers, which included a one-time boost in risk reserves. Revenues for the quarter fell slightly to $190 million , and a small rise in patient days was offset by lower Medicare reimbursement rates.
Shares of NHC (Ticker: NHC ) were trading down more than 2 percent to $43.81 Friday afternoon. Year to date, they have risen about 5 percent.