Hospitals and managed-care companies might have a hard time getting banks and other lenders to return their calls for the foreseeable future.
Healthcare led the list of least-attractive industries for lenders for the fourth consecutive quarter, according to Phoenix Management Services, which conducts a quarterly survey of the nation's lenders.
Some 84% of lenders responding to a survey during this year's first quarter said they would not advance cash to a healthcare company.
The result echoed the attitudes during the fourth quarter of 1999, when 85% of lenders said they would not make a healthcare loan. That marked the lowest percentage for any industry since the survey began in 1995, according to Phoenix.
"The prognosis for the healthcare industry remains grim," said Phoenix President E. Talbot Briddell. "There are very few signs of life among the varied sectors that make up the industry."
No single sector of healthcare scored above the 50% level, indicating the low esteem in which the industry overall is held, Briddell said.
Pharmaceutical companies were deemed the most attractive sector, mentioned by 41% of respondents, followed by durable medical equipment suppliers, regarded by 39% as the most attractive segment.
Meanwhile, lending overall is expected to increase over the next six months, especially in the international arena. Lenders improved their expectations for the economy for the first half of the year, and 98% expect an increase in interest rates.
Some 56% of respondents worked for commercial banks, while 35% were employed at commercial finance companies and 7% at factoring firms, which make riskier loans by purchasing a company's accounts receivables. The balance were from miscellaneous institutions.
Light manufacturing, industrial distribution and service companies led the list of attractive industries.