10-K 1 ston-10k_20191231.htm 10-K ston-10k_20191231.htm

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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                      to                     .

Commission File Number: 001-39172

STONEMOR INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

Delaware

 

80-0103152

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

 

3600 Horizon Boulevard

Trevose, Pennsylvania

 

19053

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code): (215) 826-2800

__________________________________

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.01 par value per share

 

STON

 

New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

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Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes      No  

As of June 30, 2019, the last business day of the most recent second quarter of the registrant’s predecessor, the aggregate market value of the common units of such predecessor held by non-affiliates was approximately $49.3 million based on $2.20, the closing price per such common unit as reported on the New York Stock Exchange on June 28, 2019.

At March 31, 2020, the registrant had outstanding 94,477,102 shares of Common Stock, par value $.01 per share.

Documents incorporated by reference: None

 

 

 

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FORM 10-K OF STONEMOR INC.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

PART I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

12

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

23

 

 

 

 

 

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

26

 

 

 

 

 

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for the Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

27

 

 

 

 

 

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

27

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

28

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

48

 

 

 

 

 

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

49

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

103

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

103

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

106

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

107

 

 

 

 

 

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

113

 

 

 

 

 

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

123

 

 

 

 

 

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

124

 

 

 

 

 

Item 14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

126

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

128

 

 

 

 

 

Item 16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

132

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signatures

 

133


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EXPLANATORY NOTE

 

Effective as of December 31, 2019, pursuant to that certain Merger and Reorganization Agreement (as amended, the “Merger Agreement”) by and among StoneMor GP LLC (“StoneMor GP”), a Delaware limited liability company and the general partner of StoneMor Partners L.P. (the “Partnership”), the Partnership, StoneMor GP Holdings LLC, a Delaware limited liability company and formerly the sole member of GP (“GP Holdings”) and Hans Merger Sub, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company and wholly-owned subsidiary of GP (“Merger Sub”), GP converted from a Delaware limited liability company into a Delaware corporation named StoneMor Inc. (the “Company”) and Merger Sub was merged with and into the Partnership (the “Merger”). The Company is the successor registrant to the Partnership pursuant to Rule 405 under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Rule 12g-3 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act:”).

 

As used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K (the “Annual Report”), unless the context otherwise requires, references to the terms the “Company,” “StoneMor,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to StoneMor Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries for all periods from and after the Merger and to StoneMor Partners L.P. and its consolidated subsidiaries for all periods prior to the Merger.

 

In addition, as used in this Annual Report, unless the context otherwise requires, references to (i) the term “Cornerstone” refers to Cornerstone Family Services, Inc.; (ii) the term “CFSI” refers to CFSI LLC; (iii) the term “CFS” refers to Cornerstone Family Services LLC; (iv) the term “LP Sub” refers to StoneMor LP Holdings, LLC; (v) the term “ACII” refers to American Cemeteries Infrastructure Investors, LLC; (vi) the term “AUH” refers to AIM Universal Holdings, LLC; (vii) the term “AIM” refers to American Infrastructure MLP Funds; (viii) the term “AIM II” refers to American Infrastructure MLP Fund II, L.P.; (ix) the term AIM FFII refers to American Infrastructure MLP Founders Fund II, L.P.; (x) the term “AIM II StoneMor” refers to AIM II Delaware StoneMor, Inc.; (xi) the term AIM Management II refers to American Infrastructure MLP Management II, L.L.C.; and (xiv) the term AIM II Offshore refers to AIM II Offshore, L.P.

We are filing as a smaller reporting company within the meaning of Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act. As a smaller reporting company, we may choose to comply with certain scaled or non-scaled financial and non-financial disclosure requirements on an item by item basis.

 

 

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PART I

ITEM 1.

BUSINESS

OVERVIEW

Our History

We were formed as a Delaware limited partnership in April 2004 and, since our formation, our general partner has been StoneMor GP, a Delaware limited liability company. From May 2014 until December 31, 2019, the sole member of StoneMor GP was GP Holdings.

Recent Developments

COVID-19 Pandemic

In December 2019, an outbreak of a novel strain of coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China (“COVID-19”) and has since spread worldwide, including to the Unites States (the “U.S.”), posing public health risks that have reached pandemic proportions (the “COVID-19 Pandemic”). The COVID-19 Pandemic poses a threat to the health and economic wellbeing of our employees, customers and vendors. Currently, our operations have been deemed essential by the state and local governments in which we operate, with the exception of Puerto Rico, and we are actively working with federal, state and local government officials to ensure that we continue to satisfy their requirements for offering our essential services. The operation of all of our facilities is critically dependent on our employees who staff these locations. To ensure the wellbeing of our employees and their families, we have provided all of our employees with detailed health and safety literature on COVID-19, such as the Center for Disease Control (the “CDC”)’s industry-specific guidelines for working with the deceased who were and may have been infected with COVID-19. In addition, our procurement and safety teams have updated and developed new safety-oriented guidelines to support daily field operations and provided personal protection equipment to those employees whose positions necessitate them, and we have implemented work from home policies at our corporate office consistent with CDC guidance to reduce the risks of exposure to COVID-19 while still supporting the families that we serve.

Our marketing and sales team has quickly responded to the sales challenges presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic by implementing virtual meeting options using a variety of web-based tools to ensure that we can continue to connect with and meet our customers’ needs in a safe, effective and productive manner. Some of our locations have also started providing live video streaming of their funeral and burial services to our customers, so that family and friends can connect virtually during their time of grief. 

Like most businesses world-wide, the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted us financially; however, we cannot presently predict the scope and severity with which COVID-19 will impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. As recently as early March 2020, we were experiencing sales growth for the first quarter of 2020, as compared to the first quarter of 2019. However, over the last two weeks, we have seen our pre-need sales activity decline as Americans practice social distancing. In addition, our pre-need customers with installment contracts could default on their installment contracts due to lost work or other financial stresses arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic. While we expect our pre-need sales to be challenged during the COVID 19 Pandemic, we believe the implementation of our virtual meeting tools is one of several key steps to mitigate this disruption. In addition, we expect that throughout this disruption our cemeteries and funeral homes will remain open and available to serve our families in all the locations in which we operate to the extent permitted by local authorities, with the exception of Puerto Rico.

C-Corporation Conversion

On December 31, 2019, pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement, we completed the following series of reorganization transactions (which we sometimes refer to collectively as the “C-Corporation Conversion”):

 

GP Holdings contributed its entire equity interest in the Partnership to StoneMor GP and, in exchange, ultimately received an aggregate of 5,099,969 shares of our common stock;

 

StoneMor GP contributed the common units in the Partnership it received from GP Holdings to LP Sub, a Delaware limited liability company and wholly-owned subsidiary of StoneMor GP;

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Merger Sub merged with and into the Partnership, with the Partnership surviving as a Delaware limited partnership, and pursuant to which each outstanding Series A Convertible Preferred Unit (defined below) and Common Unit (other than the common units held by LP Sub) was converted into the right to receive one share of our common stock; and

 

StoneMor GP converted from a Delaware limited liability company to a Delaware corporation called StoneMor Inc.

As a result of the C-Corporation Conversion, the Company remains the general partner of the Partnership and LP Sub is the sole limited partner of the Partnership such that, directly or indirectly, the Company owns 100% of the interests in the Partnership.

Divestitures and Early Debt Redemptions

On January 3, 2020, we sold substantially all of the assets of Oakmont Memorial Park, Oakmont Funeral Home, Redwood Chapel, Inspiration Chapel and Oakmont Crematory located in California pursuant to the terms of an asset sale agreement (the “Oakmont Agreement”) with Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. for an aggregate cash purchase price of $33.0 million (the “Oakmont Sale”). The divested assets consisted of one cemetery, one funeral home and certain related assets. In March 2020, we entered into an asset purchase agreement for the sale of substantially all of the assets of the cemetery, funeral establishment and crematory commonly known as Olivet Memorial Park, Olivet Funeral and Cremation Services, and Olivet Memorial Park & Crematory pursuant to the terms of an asset sale agreement (the “Olivet Agreement”) with Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association for a net cash purchase price of $24.3 million, subject to certain adjustments (the “Olivet Sale”). In addition, in March 2020, we entered into an asset sale agreement (the “California Agreement”) with certain entities owned by John Yeatman and Guy Saxton to sell substantially all of our remaining California properties, consisting of five cemeteries, six funeral establishments and four crematories (the “Remaining California Assets”) for a cash purchase price of $7.1 million, subject to certain closing adjustments (the “Remaining California Sale”).

In January 2020, we redeemed an aggregate $30.4 million of principal of our 9.875%/11.500% Senior Secured PIK Toggle Notes due 2024 (the “Senior Secured Notes”), primarily using the net proceeds from the Oakmont Sale. Per the indenture dated June 27, 2019 by and among the Partnership, Cornerstone Family Services of West Virginia Subsidiary, Inc., certain direct and indirect subsidiaries of the Company, the initial purchasers party thereto and Wilmington Trust, National Association, as trustee and as collateral agent (as amended, the “Indenture”), we anticipate using the first $23.7 million of net proceeds and 80% of the remaining net proceeds from the Olivet Sale along with 80% of the net proceeds from the Remaining California Sale to redeem additional portions of the outstanding Senior Secured Notes.

The information set forth in this Annual Report regarding our cemeteries and funeral homes is as of December 31, 2019 and does not give effect to the Oakmont Sale, the Olivet Sale or the Remaining California Sale.

Amendments to the Indenture and Capital Raise in 2020

On April 1, 2020, the Partnership, Cornerstone Family Services of West Virginia Subsidiary, Inc. (collectively with the Partnership, the “Issuers”) and Wilmington Trust, National Association, as trustee, entered into the Third Supplemental Indenture (the “Supplemental Indenture”) to the Indenture. Pursuant to the terms of the Supplemental Indenture:

 

1.

The following financial covenants were amended:

 

a.

The Interest Coverage Ratio measurements at March 31, June 30 and September 30, 2020 were eliminated and replaced with a Minimum Operating Cash Flow covenant of $(25.0 million), $(35.0 million) and $(35.0 million), respectively;

 

b.

The required Interest Coverage Ratios at December 31, 2020, March 31, 2021 and June 30, 2021 were reduced to 0.00x, 0.75x and 1.10x, respectively, from 1.15x, 1.25x and 1.30x; and

 

c.

The Asset Coverage tests at March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31, 2020 were reduced to 1.40x from 1.60x;

 

2.

The premium payable upon voluntary redemption of the Senior Secured Notes on or after June 27, 2021 and before June 27, 2022 was increased from 4.0% to 5.0% and the premium payable upon any such voluntary redemption on or after June 27, 2022 and before June 27, 2023 was increased from 2.0% to 3.0%; and

 

3.

The Issuers agreed to use their best efforts to cause us to effectuate a rights offering on the terms described below as promptly as practicable with an expiration date no later than July 24, 2020 and to receive proceeds of not less than $8.2 million therefrom (in addition to the $8.8 million capital raise described below).

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The foregoing amendments effected by the Supplemental Indenture will become operational when we pay a $5 million consent fee to the holders of the Senior Secured Notes, of which $3.5 million will be paid in cash and $1.5 million will be paid by increasing the principal amount of the Senior Secured Notes outstanding, and satisfy other specified conditions.

Concurrently with the execution of the Supplemental Indenture, we entered into a letter agreement (the “Axar Commitment”) with Axar pursuant to which Axar committed to (a) purchase shares of our Series A Preferred Stock with an aggregate purchase price of $8.8 million on April 3, 2020, (b) exercise its basic rights in the rights offering by tendering the shares of Series A Preferred Stock so purchased for shares of our common stock, $0.01 par value per share (“Common Stock”) and (c) purchase any shares offered in the rights offering for which other stockholders do not exercise their rights, up to a maximum of an additional $8.2 million of such shares. We did not pay Axar any commitment, backstop or other fees in connection with the Axar Commitment.

On April 3, 2020, as contemplated by the Axar Commitment, the Company and Axar CL SPV LLC, Star V Partners LLC and Blackwell Partners LLC –Series E. (the “2020 Purchasers”) entered into a Series A Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement (the “2020 Preferred Purchase Agreement”) pursuant to which we sold 176 shares of our Series A Preferred Stock, par value $0.01 per share (the “Preferred Shares”), for a cash price of $50,000 per share, an aggregate of $8.8 million.  We offered and sold the Preferred Shares in reliance upon the exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act pursuant to Section 4(a)(2) thereof. We relied on this exemption from registration based in part on representations made by the 2020 Purchasers in the 2020 Preferred Purchase Agreement.

Under the terms of the Supplemental Indenture and the Axar Commitment, we agreed to undertake an offering to holders of our Common Stock of transferable rights to purchase their pro rata share of shares of Common Stock with an aggregate exercise price of at least $17 million at a price of $0.73 per share. The rights offering period, during which the rights will be transferable, will be no less than 20 calendar days and no more than 45 calendar days.  We agreed to use our best efforts to complete the rights offering with an expiration date no later than July 24, 2020.

Recapitalization Transactions in 2019

On June 27, 2019, we closed a $447.5 million recapitalization transaction, consisting of (i) the sale of an aggregate of 52,083,333 of the Partnership’s Series A Preferred Units (the “Series A Convertible Preferred Units”) representing limited partner interests in the Partnership at a purchase price of $1.1040 per Preferred Unit, reflecting an 8% discount to the liquidation preference of each Preferred Unit, for an aggregate purchase price of $57.5 million (the “Preferred Offering”) and (ii) a concurrent private placement of $385.0 million of Senior Secured Notes to certain financial institutions (collectively with the Preferred Offering, the “Recapitalization Transactions”). The net proceeds of the Recapitalization Transactions were used to fully repay our then-outstanding senior notes due in June 2021 and retire the revolving credit facility due in May 2020, as well as for associated transaction expenses, cash collateralization of existing letters of credit and other needs under the former credit facility, with the balance available for general corporate purposes.

Board Reconstitution

In connection with the closing of the Recapitalization Transactions, our Board of Directors was reconstituted. Directors Martin R. Lautman, Ph.D., Leo J. Pound, Robert A Sick and Fenton R. Talbott resigned as directors and the authorized number of directors was reduced to seven. Andrew Axelrod, David Miller and Spencer Goldenberg were elected to fill the vacancies created by the resignations. The reconstituted board is comprised of Messrs. Axelrod, Miller and Goldenberg, Robert B. Hellman, Jr., Stephen Negrotti, Patricia Wellenbach and Joseph M. Redling. Mr. Axelrod serves as the chairman of the board.

Strategic Partnership Agreement

On April 2, 2020, we entered into two multi-year Master Services Agreements (the “MSAs”) with Moon Landscaping, Inc. and its affiliate, Rickert Landscaping, Inc. (collectively “Moon”). Under the terms of the MSAs, Moon will provide all grounds and maintenance services at most of the funeral homes, cemeteries and other properties we own or manage including, but not limited to, landscaping, openings and closings, burials, installations, routine maintenance and janitorial services. Moon will hire all of our grounds and maintenance employees at the serviced locations and will perform all functions currently handled by those employees. We expect the implementation of the MSAs to take place on a clustered basis over the next three to four months, with full implementation expected no later than July 31, 2020.

We agreed to pay a total of approximately $241 million over the term of the contract, which runs through December 31, 2024, based upon an initial annual cost of $49 million and annual increases of 2%. The first year cost will be prorated based upon exact implementation and roll-out schedule for each location. As part of the MSAs, we agreed to lease our landscaping and maintenance equipment to Moon for the duration of the agreements and to transfer title to any such equipment we own at the

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end of the term to Moon, in each case without any additional payment by Moon. As of December 31, 2019, the net book value of the equipment we will be leasing to Moon was approximately $7.4 million.

Each party has the right to terminate the MSAs at any time on six months’ prior written notice, provided that if we terminate the MSAs without cause, we will be obligated to pay Moon an equipment credit fee in the amount of $1.0 million for each year remaining in the term, prorated for the portion of the year in which any such termination occurs. The MSAs also contain representations, covenants and indemnity provisions that are customary for agreements of this nature.

Products and Service Offerings

We are currently one of the largest owners and operators of cemeteries and funeral homes in the U.S. As of December 31, 2019, we operated 321 cemeteries in 27 states and Puerto Rico. We own 291 of these cemeteries and we manage or operate the remaining 30 under lease, management or operating agreements with the nonprofit cemetery companies that own the cemeteries. As of December 31, 2019, we also owned, operated or managed 90 funeral homes, including 42 located on the grounds of cemetery properties that we own, in 17 states and Puerto Rico.

The cemetery products and services that we sell include the following:

Interment Rights

 

Merchandise

 

Services

burial lots

 

burial vaults

 

installation of burial vaults

lawn crypts

 

caskets

 

installation of caskets

mausoleum crypts

 

grave markers and grave marker bases

 

installation of other cemetery merchandise

cremation niches

 

memorials

 

other service items

perpetual care rights

 

 

 

 

We sell these products and services both at the time of death, which we refer to as at-need, and prior to the time of death, which we refer to as pre-need. In 2019, we performed 52,010 burials and sold 25,963 interment rights (net of cancellations). Based on our sales of interment spaces in 2019, our cemeteries have an aggregate average remaining sales life of 243 years.

Our cemetery properties are located in Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Our cemetery operations accounted for approximately 82% and 83% of our revenues in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

The funeral home products and services that we sell include the following:

Merchandise

 

Services

caskets and related items

 

family consultation

 

 

removal and preparation of remains

 

 

insurance products

 

 

use of funeral home facilities for visitation and prayer services

 

Our funeral homes are located in Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Our funeral home operations accounted for approximately 18% and 17% of our consolidated revenues in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

OPERATIONS

Segment Reporting and Related Information

We have two distinct reportable segments, which are classified as Cemetery Operations and Funeral Home Operations segments, both of which are supported by corporate costs and expenses.

We have chosen this level of organization and disaggregation of reportable segments because: (a) each reportable segment has unique characteristics that set it apart from the other segment; (b) we have organized our management personnel at these two operational levels; and (c) it is the level at which our chief decision makers evaluates performance.

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Cemetery Operations

As of December 31, 2019, we operated 321 cemeteries. Our Cemetery Operations include sales of cemetery interment rights, merchandise and services and the performance of cemetery maintenance and other services. An interment right entitles a customer to a burial space in one of our cemeteries and the perpetual care of that burial space. Burial spaces, or lots, are parcels of property that hold interred human remains. A burial vault is a rectangular container, usually made of concrete but can also be made of steel or plastic, which sits in the burial lot and in which the casket is placed. The top of the burial vault is buried approximately 18 to 24 inches below the surface of the ground, and the casket is placed inside the vault. Burial vaults prevent ground settling that may create uneven ground surfaces. Ground settling typically results in higher maintenance costs and potential exposure for accidents on the property. Lawn crypts are a series of closely spaced burial lots with preinstalled vaults and may include other improvements, such as landscaping, sprinkler systems and drainage. A mausoleum crypt is an above ground structure that may be designed for a particular customer, which we refer to as a private mausoleum or it may be a larger building that serves multiple customers, which we refer to as a community mausoleum. Cremation niches are spaces in which the ashes remaining after cremation are stored. Cremation niches are often part of community mausoleums; although we sell a variety of cremation niches to accommodate our customers’ preferences.

Grave markers, monuments and memorials are above ground products that serve as memorials by showing who is remembered, the dates of birth and death and other pertinent information. These markers, monuments and memorials include simple plates, such as those used in a community mausoleum or cremation niche, flush-to-the-ground granite or bronze markers, headstones or large stone obelisks.

One of the principal services we provide at our cemeteries is an "opening and closing," which is the digging and refilling of burial spaces to install the vault and place the casket into the vault. With pre-need sales, there are usually two openings and closings, where permitted by applicable law. During the initial opening and closing, we install the burial vault in the burial space. Where permitted by applicable law, we usually perform this service shortly after the customer signs a pre-need contract. Advance installation allows us to withdraw the related funds from our merchandise trusts, making the amount in excess of our cost to purchase and install the vault available to us for other uses and eliminates future merchandise trusting requirements for the burial vault and its installation. During the final opening and closing, we remove the dirt above the vault, open the lid of the vault, place the casket into the vault, close the vault lid and replace the ground cover. With at-need sales, we typically perform the initial opening and closing at the time we perform the final opening and closing. Our other services include the installation of other cemetery merchandise and the perpetual care related to interment rights.

Funeral Home Operations

As of December 31, 2019, we owned, operated or managed 90 funeral homes, 42 of which are located on the grounds of cemetery properties that we own. Our funeral homes offer a range of services to meet a family’s funeral needs, including family consultation, final expense insurance products, the removal and preparation of remains, provision of caskets and related funeral merchandise, the use of funeral home facilities for visitation, worship and performance of funeral services and transportation services. Funeral Home Operations primarily generate revenues from at-need sales.

Cremation Products and Services

We operate crematories at some of our cemeteries or funeral homes, but our primary crematory operations are sales of receptacles for cremated remains, such as urns, and the inurnment of cremated remains in niches or scattering gardens. Cremation products and services usually cost less than traditional burial products and services and take up less space than burials. We sell cremation products and services on both a pre-need and an at-need basis.

Seasonality

Although the death care business is relatively stable and predictable, our results of operations may be subject to seasonal fluctuations in deaths due to weather conditions, illness and public health crises, such as the COVID-19 Pandemic. Generally, more deaths occur during the winter months, primarily resulting from pneumonia and influenza. In addition, we generally perform fewer initial openings and closings in the winter, as the ground is frozen in many of the areas in which we operate. We may also experience declines in contracts written during the winter months due to increased inclement weather during which our sales staff would be unable to meet with customers.

Sales Contracts

Pre-need products and services are typically sold on an installment basis. At-need products and services are generally required to be paid for in full in cash by the customer at the time of sale. As a result of our pre-need sales, the backlog of unfulfilled pre-

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need performance obligations recorded in deferred revenues was $949.4 million and $919.6 million at December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Trusts

Sales of cemetery products and services are subject to a variety of state regulations. In accordance with these regulations, we are required to establish and fund two types of trusts: merchandise trusts and perpetual care trusts, to ensure that we can meet our future obligations. Our funding obligations are generally equal to a percentage of the sales proceeds or costs of the products and services we sell.

Sales Personnel, Training and Marketing

As of December 31, 2019, we employed 455 full-time commissioned salespeople and four part-time commissioned salespeople, 125 salaried sales managers, 20 outside sales counselors and seven full-time sales support employees. We had two divisional sales vice presidents who report directly to our two divisional presidents. Individual salespersons are typically located at the cemeteries they serve and report directly to the cemetery sales manager. We have made a commitment to the ongoing education and training of our sales force and to salesperson retention in order to provide our customers high quality customer service and in an effort to comply with all applicable laws and requirements. Our salespeople are trained to prioritize our customers’ needs and sell merchandise and services that are in our customers’ best interests. Our training program includes classroom training at regional training locations, field training, periodically updated training materials that utilize media, such as web based modules, for interactive training and participation in industry seminars. Additionally, we place special emphasis on training property sales managers, who are key elements to a successful pre-need sales program.

We generate sales leads through various methods including digital marketing, direct mail, websites, funeral follow-up and sales force cold calling, with the assistance of database mining and other marketing resources. We have created a marketing department to allow us to use more sophisticated marketing techniques to focus more effectively on our lead generation and to direct sales efforts. Sales leads are referred to the sales force to schedule an appointment, either at the customer’s home or at the cemetery location.

Acquisitions

We did not complete any acquisitions during the year ended December 31, 2019. On January 19, 2018, we acquired six cemetery properties in Wisconsin and their related assets, net of certain assumed liabilities, for cash consideration of $2.5 million, of which $0.8 million was paid at closing. We had been managing these properties since August 2016. We accounted for the purchase of these properties, which were not material individually or in the aggregate, under the acquisition method of accounting.

Competition

Our cemeteries and funeral homes generally serve customers that live within a 10 to 15-mile radius of a property’s location. We face competition from other cemeteries and funeral homes located within this localized area. Most of these cemeteries and funeral homes are independently owned and operated, and most of these owners and operators are smaller than we are and have fewer resources than we do. We have historically face limited competition from the two larger publicly held death care companies that have U.S. operations — Service Corporation International and Carriage Services, Inc. — as they do not directly operate cemeteries in the same local geographic areas in which we operate. Furthermore, these companies have historically generated the majority of their revenues from funeral home operations. Based on the relative levels of cemetery and funeral home operations of these publicly traded death care companies, which are disclosed in their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), we believe that we are the only publicly held death care company that focuses a majority of its efforts on Cemetery Operations.

Within a localized area of competition, we compete primarily for at-need sales, because, in general, many of the independently owned, local competitors may not have pre-need sales programs. Most of these competitors do not have as many of the resources that are available to us to launch and grow a substantial pre-need sales program. The number of customers that cemeteries and funeral homes are able to attract is largely a function of reputation and heritage, although competitive pricing, professional service and attractive, well-maintained and conveniently located facilities are also important factors. The sale of cemetery and funeral home products and services on a pre-need basis has increasingly been used by many companies as an important marketing tool. Due to the importance of reputation and heritage, increases in customer base are usually gained over a long period of time.

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Competitors within a localized area have an advantage over us if a potential customer’s family members are already buried in the competitor’s cemetery. If either of the two publicly held death care companies identified above operated, or in the future were to operate, cemeteries within close proximity of our cemeteries, they may offer more competition than independent cemeteries and may have a competitive advantage over us to the extent they have greater financial resources available to them due to their size and access to the capital markets.

REGULATION

Our funeral operations are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and a trade regulation rule for the funeral industry promulgated thereunder referred to as the “Funeral Rule.” The Funeral Rule defines certain acts or practices as unfair or deceptive and contains certain requirements to prevent these acts or practices. The preventive measures require a funeral provider to give consumers accurate, itemized price information and various other disclosures about funeral merchandise and services and prohibit a funeral provider from: (i) misrepresenting legal, crematory and cemetery requirements; (ii) embalming for a fee without permission; (iii) requiring the purchase of a casket for direct cremation; (iv) requiring consumers to buy certain funeral merchandise or services as a condition for furnishing other funeral merchandise or services; (v) misrepresenting state and local requirements for an outer burial container; and (vi) representing that funeral merchandise and services have preservative and protective value. Additionally, the Funeral Rule requires the disclosure of mark-ups, commissions, additional charges and rebates related to cash advance items. Our operations are also subject to regulation, supervision and licensing under numerous federal, state and local laws and regulations, including those that impose trusting requirements

Our operations are subject to federal, regional, state and local laws and regulations related to environmental protection, such as the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and Comprehensive Environmental Response ("EPCRA"), Compensation, and Liability Act, that impose legal requirements governing air emissions, waste management and disposal and wastewater discharges.

We are subject to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act ("OSHA") and comparable state statutes. OSHA’s regulatory requirement, known as the Hazard Communication Standard, and similar state statutes require us to provide information and training to our employees about hazardous materials used or maintained for our operations. We may also be subject to Tier 1 or Tier 2 Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory reporting requirements under the EPCRA, depending on the amount of hazardous materials maintained on-site at a particular facility. We are also subject to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws, which, among other things, may require that we modify our facilities to comply with minimum accessibility requirements for disabled persons.

We take various measures to comply with the Funeral Rule and all other laws and regulations to which we are subject, and we believe we are substantially in compliance with these existing laws and regulations.

Federal, state and local legislative bodies and regulatory agencies frequently propose new laws and regulations, some of which could have a material effect on our operations and on the deathcare industry in general. We cannot accurately predict the outcome of any proposed legislation or regulation or the effect that any such legislation or regulation might have on us.

Employees

On January 31, 2019, we announced a profit improvement initiative, as part of our ongoing organizational review, designed to further integrate, streamline and optimize our operations. As part of this profit improvement initiative, during 2019 we undertook certain cost reduction initiatives, which included a reduction of approximately 200 positions of our workforce within our field operations and corporate functions in our headquarters located in Trevose, Pennsylvania.

As of December 31, 2019, we employed 2,313 full-time, 219 part-time and 14 seasonal employees. 40 of these full-time employees are represented by various unions in Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey and Illinois and are subject to collective bargaining agreements that have expiration dates ranging from September 2020 to May 2023. We believe that our relationship with our employees is generally favorable.

Available Information

We file annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports with the SEC. The SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC, including us.

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We maintain an Internet website with the address of http://www.stonemor.com. The information on this website is not, and should not be considered, part of this Annual Report and is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report. This website address is only intended to be an inactive textual reference. Copies of our reports filed with, or furnished to, the SEC on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K, and any amendments to such reports, are available for viewing and copying at such Internet website, free of charge, as soon as reasonably practicable after filing such material with, or furnishing it to, the SEC.

ITEM 1A.

RISK FACTORS

Forward-looking statements are neither historical facts nor assurances of future performance. Instead, they are based only on our current beliefs, expectations and assumptions that we believe are reasonable regarding the future of our business, future plans and strategies, projections, anticipated events and trends, the economy and other future conditions. All statements, other than statements of historical information, should be deemed to be forward-looking statements. The words “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “plan,” “intend,” “foresee,” “should,” “would,” “could” or other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, which are generally not historical in nature. Because forward-looking statements relate to the future, they are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict and many of which are outside of our control. Our actual results and financial condition may differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements.

Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations include, but are not limited to, the risks set forth below. The risks described below are those that we have identified as material and is not an exhaustive list of all the risks we face. There may be others that we have not identified or that we have deemed to be immaterial. All forward-looking statements made by us or on our behalf are qualified by the risks described below. If any events occur that give rise to the following risks, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely impacted. These risk factors, some of which are beyond our control or not readily predictable, should be read in conjunction with other information set forth in this Annual Report, including our consolidated financial statements and the related notes. Investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on our forward-looking statements.

RISKS RELATED TO OUR INDEBTEDNESS

Our level of indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition and prevent us from fulfilling our debt obligations.

As of December 31, 2019, we had $393.4 million of total debt (excluding debt issuance costs, debt discounts and capital lease obligations), consisting of $392.8 million of the Senior Secured Notes and $0.6 million of financed vehicles. Our indebtedness requires significant interest and principal payments. Since December 31, 2019, we have redeemed an aggregate of $31.3 million of principal on the Senior Secured Notes, primarily with the net proceeds from the Oakmont Sale, and we anticipate using the first $23.7 million of net proceeds and 80% of the remaining net proceeds from the Olivet Sale along with 80% of the net proceeds from the Remaining California Sale to redeem additional portions of the outstanding Senior Secured Notes. Under the Indenture, we are obligated to pay a 2.0% premium for future redemptions of the principal of the Senior Secured Notes in excess of $23.7 million. We have the right and expect to pay quarterly interest at a fixed rate of 7.50% per annum in cash plus a fixed rate of 4.00% per annum payable in kind through January 30, 2022. The Senior Secured Notes will require cash interest payments at 9.875% for all interest periods after January 30, 2022.

Our level of indebtedness could have important consequences to us, including:

 

continuing to require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to the payment of the principal of and interest on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the funds available for operations and any future business opportunities;

 

limiting flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business or the industry in which we operate;

 

placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less indebtedness;

 

increasing our vulnerability to adverse general economic or industry conditions; and

 

limiting our ability to obtain additional financing to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or other general corporate requirements and increasing our cost of borrowing.

In addition, the Indenture prohibits us from incurring additional debt or liens for working capital expenditures, acquisitions or other purposes (subject to very limited exceptions), requires us to maintain a minimum liquidity level on a rolling ten business day basis and requires us to meet minimum interest and asset coverage ratios as of the end of each fiscal quarter. Our ability to make payments on and to refinance our indebtedness will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future from operations, financings or asset sales. Our ability to repay our indebtedness and comply with the restrictive and financial maintenance covenants will be dependent on, among other things, the successful execution of our strategic plans. If we require additional

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capacity under the restrictive covenants to successfully execute our strategic plans or if we are unable to comply with the financial maintenance covenants, we will need to seek an amendment from a majority of the holders of the Senior Secured Notes. No assurances can be given that we will be successful in obtaining such an amendment, and any failure to obtain such an amendment will have a material adverse effect on our business operations and our financial results.

Our ability to generate cash is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory and other factors that are beyond our control. We may not generate sufficient funds to service our debt and meet our business needs, such as funding working capital or the expansion of our operations. If we are not able to repay or refinance our debt as it becomes due, we may be forced to take certain actions, including reducing spending on day-to-day operations, reducing future financing for working capital, capital expenditures and general corporate purposes, selling assets or dedicating an unsustainable level of our cash flow from operations to the payment of principal and interest on our indebtedness. The trustee or holders of our debt could also accelerate amounts due in the event that we default, which could potentially trigger a default or acceleration of the maturity of our debt.

In addition, our ability to withstand competitive pressures and to react to changes in our industry could be impaired, and our leverage could put us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that are less leveraged, as these competitors could have greater financial flexibility to pursue strategic acquisitions and secure additional financing for their operations. Our leverage could also impede our ability to withstand downturns in our industry or the economy in general.

The prohibition on incurring additional debt in the Indenture for the Senior Secured Notes, as well as future operating results, may require us to issue additional equity securities to finance our working capital and capital expenditure needs. Any such equity issuance may be at a price less than the then-current market price, which would result in dilution to our stockholders’ interest in us.

The Indenture prohibits us from incurring additional debt, including to fund working capital and capital expenditures, subject to very limited exceptions. This prohibition may require us to issue additional equity securities in order to provide us with sufficient cash to fund our working capital, liquidity and capital expenditure needs. There can be no assurance as to the price and terms on which such equity securities may be issued, and our stockholders’ equity interest in us may be materially diluted. For example, under the Supplemental Indenture and the Axar Commitment, we agreed to use our best efforts to effectuate a rights offering with an exercise price per shares of $0.73 per share with aggregate proceeds of not less than $17.0 million. Except as set forth in the Axar Commitment, there can be no assurances that we will be able to issue additional equity on any terms, in which case we may not have sufficient cash to fund our working capital, liquidity and capital expenditure needs and we may be unable to comply with one or more of the financial maintenance covenants in the Indenture.

We must comply with covenants in the Indenture. Failure to comply with these covenants, which may result from events that are not within our control, may result in an Event of Default under the Indenture, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition and on the trading price of our common shares.

The operating and financial restrictions and covenants in the Indenture restrict our ability to finance future operations or capital needs, including working capital and other liquidity, or to expand or pursue our business activities. For example, the Indenture requires us to comply with various affirmative covenants regarding, among other matters, maintenance and investment of trust funds and trust accounts into which certain sales proceeds are required by law to be deposited, minimum liquidity and other covenants. The Indenture also includes other restrictive and financial maintenance covenants including, but not limited to:

 

covenants that, subject to certain exceptions, limit our ability to:

 

incur additional indebtedness, including entering into a working capital facility;

 

grant liens;

 

engage in certain sale/leaseback, merger, consolidation or asset sale transactions;

 

make certain investments;

 

pay dividends or make distributions;

 

engage in affiliate transactions;

 

amend our organizational documents; and

 

make capital expenditures; and

 

covenants that require us to maintain:

 

a minimum liquidity level on a rolling ten business day basis;

 

a minimum interest coverage ratio on a trailing twelve month basis as of each fiscal quarter end; and

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a minimum asset coverage ratio as of each fiscal quarter end.

The Indenture also provides for certain events of default, the occurrence and continuation of which could, subject to certain conditions, cause all amounts owing under the Senior Secured Notes to become due and payable, including but not limited to the following:

 

our failure to pay any interest on any senior secured note when it becomes due and payable that remains uncured for five business days;

 

our failure to pay the principal on any of the senior secured notes when it becomes due and payable, whether at the due date thereof, at a date fixed for redemption, by acceleration or otherwise;

 

our failure to comply with the agreements and covenants relating to maintenance of our legal existence, providing notice of any default or event of default or use of proceeds from the sale of the Senior Secured Notes or any of the restrictive or financial maintenance covenants in the Indenture;

 

our failure to comply with any other agreements or covenants contained in the Indenture or certain other agreements executed in connection with the Indenture that remains uncured for a period of 15 days after the earlier of written notice and request for cure from the Trustee or holders of at least 25% of the aggregate principal amount of the Senior Secured Notes;

 

the acceleration of, or the failure, to pay at final maturity indebtedness (other than the Senior Secured Notes) in a principal amount exceeding $5.0 million;

 

the occurrence of a Change in Control (as defined in the Indenture);

 

certain bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings involving an Issuer or any subsidiary; and

 

our failure to maintain one or more licenses, permits or similar approvals for the conduct of our business where the sum of the revenue associated therewith represents the lesser of (i) 15% of the Partnership’s and its subsidiaries’ consolidated revenue and (ii) $30.0 million, and such breach is not cured within 30 days.

At the option of holders holding a majority of the outstanding principal amount of the Senior Secured Notes (and automatically upon any default for failure to pay principal of the Senior Secured Notes when due and payable or certain bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings involving an Issuer), the interest rate on the Senior Secured Notes will increase to 13.50% per annum, payable in cash.

Our ability to comply with the covenants and restrictions contained in the Indenture may be affected by events beyond our control, including prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions and global health concerns. As a result of changes in market or other economic conditions, our ability to comply with these covenants may be impaired.

If we violate any of the restrictions, covenants, ratios or tests in our Indenture, or fail to pay amounts thereunder when due, the trustee or the holders of at least 25% of the outstanding principal amount of our Senior Secured Notes will be able to accelerate the maturity of all amounts due under the Senior Secured Notes and demand repayment of amounts outstanding. We might not have, or be able to obtain, sufficient funds to make these accelerated payments, and the failure to make such payments would have a material adverse effect on our business operations and our financial results. Additionally, any subsequent replacement of our debt obligations or any new indebtedness could have similar or greater restrictions.

RISK FACTORS RELATED TO OUR BUSINESS

Our ability to execute our strategic plans depends on many factors, some of which are beyond our control.

Our strategic plans are focused on efforts to revitalize the business, grow our revenue and manage our operating and non-recurring operating expenses. Many of the factors that impact our ability to execute our strategic plans, such as the number of deaths and general economic conditions, are beyond our control. Changes in operating conditions, such as supply disruptions and labor disputes, could negatively impact our operations. If we are unable to leverage scale to drive cost savings, productivity improvements, pre-need production or anticipated earnings growth, or if we are unable to deploy capital to maximize stockholder value, our financial performance could be affected. If we are unable to identify divestitures as planned or to realize expected synergies and strategic benefits, our financial performance could also be affected. We cannot give assurance that we will be able to execute any or all of our strategic plans. Failure to execute any or all of our strategic plans could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

In April 2019, we outlined and began implementing a turnaround strategy to return to profitability that is focused on four key goals: cash flow and liquidity, capital structure, strategic balance sheet/portfolio review and performance improvement from cost reductions and revenue enhancement. The turnaround strategy may negatively impact our operations, which could include

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disruptions from the realignment of operational functions within the home office, sales of selected properties, changes in the administrative reporting structure and changes in our product assortments or marketing strategies. The impact of these disruptions may be material, and these changes could adversely affect our business operations and financial results. These changes could also decrease the cash we have available to fund ongoing liquidity and working capital requirements, and we may experience periods of limited liquidity. In addition, we are currently not generating sufficient consistent cash flow to cover the interest payments on our debt and meet our operating liquidity needs. If our turnaround strategy is not successful, takes longer than initially projected or is not executed effectively, our business operations, financial results, liquidity and cash flow will be adversely affected. Furthermore, no assurances can be given that our turnaround strategy, even if implemented properly, will result in a return to profitability.

We are under leadership of a new Board of Directors, who collectively have a limited operating history with us.

In June 2019, in connection with the Recapitalization Transactions (as defined in Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Recent Events), our Board of Directors was reconstituted. Directors Martin R. Lautman, Ph.D., Leo J. Pound, Robert A. Sick and Fenton R. Talbott resigned as directors and the authorized number of directors was reduced to seven. Andrew Axelrod, David Miller and Spencer Goldenberg were elected as directors to fill the vacancies created by the resignations. The reconstituted Board of Directors is comprised of Messrs. Axelrod, Miller and Goldenberg, Robert Hellman, Stephen Negrotti, Patricia Wellenbach and Joe Redling. Certain of our new board members have limited experience with our management team and our business. The ability of our new directors to quickly understand our business plans, operations and turnaround strategies will be critical to their ability to make informed and effective decisions about our strategy and operations, particularly given the competitive environment in which our business operates.

Cemetery burial practice claims could have a material adverse impact on our financial results.

Our cemetery practices have evolved and improved over time. Most of our cemeteries have been operating for decades and may have used practices and procedures that are outdated in comparison to today's standards. When cemetery disputes occur, we may be subject to litigation and liability for improper burial practices, including:

 

burial practices of a different era that are judged today in hindsight as being outdated; and

 

alleged violations of our practices and procedures by one or more of our associates.

In addition, since most of our cemeteries were acquired through various acquisitions, we may be subject to litigation and liability based upon actions or events that occurred before we acquired or managed the cemeteries. Claims or litigation based upon our cemetery burial practices could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Our ability to generate pre-need sales depends on a number of factors, including sales incentives and local and general economic conditions.

Significant declines in pre-need sales would reduce our backlog and revenue and could reduce our future market share. On the other hand, a significant increase in pre-need sales could have a negative impact on cash flow as a result of commissions and other costs incurred initially without corresponding revenue.

We are continuing to refine the mix of service and product offerings in both our funeral and cemetery segments, including changes in our sales commission and incentive structure. These changes could cause us to experience declines in pre-need sales in the short-run. In addition, economic conditions at the local or national level could cause declines in pre-need sales either as a result of less discretionary income or lower consumer confidence. Declines in pre-need cemetery property sales reduce current revenue, and declines in other pre-need sales would reduce our backlog and future revenue and could reduce future market share.

Pre-need sales typically generate low or negative cash flow in the periods immediately following sales, which could adversely affect our liquidity and cash flow.

When we sell cemetery merchandise and services on a pre-need basis, upon cash collection, we pay commissions on the sale to our salespeople and are required by state law to deposit a portion of the sales proceeds into a merchandise trust. In addition, most of our customers finance their pre-need purchases under installment contracts payable over a number of years. Depending on the trusting requirements of the states in which we operate, the applicable sales commission rates and the amount of the down payment, our cash flow from sales to customers through installment contracts is typically negative until we have collected the related receivable or until we purchase the products or perform the services and are permitted to withdraw funds

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we have deposited in the merchandise trust. To the extent we increase pre-need sales, state trusting requirements are increased or we delay the performance of the services or delivery of merchandise we sell on a pre-need basis, our cash flow from pre-need sales may be further reduced, and our liquidity could be adversely affected.

We have a history of operating losses and may not achieve or maintain profitability and positive cash flow.

We have incurred negative cash flows from operations and net losses for several years and have an accumulated deficit as of December 31, 2019, due to an increased competitive environment, increased expenses due to the C-Corporation Conversion and increases in professional fees and compliance costs. To the extent that we continue to have negative operating cash flow in future periods, we may not have sufficient liquidity and we may not be able to successfully implement our turnaround strategy. We cannot predict if or when we will operate profitably and generate positive cash flows.

Our merchandise and perpetual care trust funds own investments in equity securities, fixed income securities, mutual funds and master limited partnerships, which are affected by financial market conditions that are beyond our control.

Pursuant to state law, a portion of the proceeds from pre-need sales of merchandise and services is put into merchandise trusts until such time that we meet the requirements for releasing trust principal, which is generally delivery of merchandise or performance of services. In addition, the Indenture also provides certain limitations on how the assets in the merchandise trusts may be invested. Generally, a majority of the investment earnings generated by the assets in the merchandise trusts, including realized gains and losses, are deferred until the associated merchandise is delivered or the services are performed.

Also, pursuant to state law, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of cemetery property is required to be paid into perpetual care trusts. The perpetual care trust principal does not belong to us and must remain in this trust in perpetuity while interest and dividends may be released and used to defray cemetery maintenance costs.

These trust assets are managed by a trustee, which is advised by Cornerstone, our registered investment adviser subsidiary, all under the oversight of the Trust and Compliance Committee of our Board. Cornerstone has engaged two outside sub-advisers to assist Cornerstone in providing investment recommendations with respect to certain trust assets. There is no guarantee that the trustee will achieve its objectives and deliver adequate returns, and the trustee’s investment choices may result in losses. In addition our returns on these investments are affected by financial market conditions that are beyond our control. If the investments in our trust funds experience significant declines, there could be insufficient funds in the trusts to cover the costs of delivering services and merchandise. Pursuant to state law, we may be required to cover any such shortfall in merchandise trusts with cash flows from operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. A substantial portion of our revenue is generated from investment returns that we realize from merchandise and perpetual care trusts. Unstable economic conditions have, at times, caused us to experience declines in the fair value of the assets held in these trusts. Moreover future cash flows could be negatively impacted if we are forced to liquidate any such investments that are in an impaired position.

If the fair market value of these trusts, plus any other amount due to us upon delivery of the associated contracts, were to decline below the estimated costs to deliver the underlying products and services, we would record a charge to earnings to record a liability for the expected losses on the delivery of the associated contracts.

For more information related to our trust investments, see Note 7, Merchandise Trusts and Note 8, Perpetual Trusts to our consolidated financial statements in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report.

We may be required to replenish our funeral and cemetery trust funds in order to meet minimum funding requirements, which would have a negative effect on our earnings and cash flow.

In certain states, we have withdrawn allowable distributable earnings from our merchandise trusts, including gains prior to the maturity or cancellation of the related contract. Additionally, some states have laws that either require replenishment of investment losses under certain circumstances or impose various restrictions on withdrawals of future earnings when trust fund values drop below certain prescribed amounts. In the event of realized losses or market declines, we may be required to deposit portions or all of these amounts into the respective trusts in some future period. As of December 31, 2019, we had unrealized losses of approximately $4.2 million in the various trusts within these states, of which $3.1 million were in merchandise trust accounts and $1.1 million were in perpetual care trust accounts.

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Any reductions in the earnings of the investments held in merchandise and perpetual care trusts could adversely affect our revenues and cash flow.

We invest our trust assets primarily for generation of realized income. We rely on the earnings, interest and dividends paid by the assets in our trusts to provide both revenue and cash flow. Interest income from fixed-income securities is particularly susceptible to changes in interest rates and declines in credit worthiness while dividends from equity securities are susceptible to the issuer’s ability to make such payments. Declines in earnings from perpetual care trust funds would cause a decline in current revenue, while declines in earnings from other trust funds could cause a decline in future cash flows and revenue.

Unfavorable publicity could affect our reputation and business.

Since our operations relate to life events that are emotionally stressful for our client families, our business is dependent on customer trust and confidence. Unfavorable publicity about our business generally or in relation to any specific location could affect our reputation and customers’ trust and confidence in our products and services, thereby having an adverse impact upon our sales and financial results.

Our failure to attract and retain qualified sales personnel and management could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

Our ability to attract and retain a qualified sales force and other personnel is an important factor in achieving future success. Buying cemetery and funeral home products and services, especially at-need products and services, is very emotional for most customers, so our sales force must be particularly sensitive to our customers’ needs. We cannot assure our stockholders that we will be successful in our efforts to attract and retain a skilled sales force. If we are unable to maintain a qualified and productive sales force, our revenues may decline and our cash available for distribution may decrease.

Our success also depends upon the services and capabilities of our management team. Management establishes the "tone at the top" by which an environment of ethical values, operating style and management philosophy is fostered. The inability of our senior management team to maintain a proper "tone at the top" or the loss of services of one or more members of senior management, as well as the inability to attract qualified managers or other personnel could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. We may not be able to locate or employ on acceptable terms qualified replacements for senior management or key employees if their services were no longer available. We do not maintain key employee insurance on any of our executive officers.

Failure to effectively identify and manage divestitures and acquisitions could have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, we launched an asset sale program designed to divest assets at attractive multiples, reduce debt levels and improve our cash flow and liquidity. As of April 1, 2020, execution of this program has resulted in the consummation of the Oakmont Sale in January 2020 and the execution of two separate asset purchase agreements for the Olivet Sale and the Remaining California Sale in March 2020. However, we may not be successful in identifying additional divestiture opportunities on terms acceptable to us and the gains or losses on the divestiture of, or lost operating income from, such assets may affect our earnings.

In addition, we continue to evaluate acquisition opportunities that could strategically fit our business objectives. However, we may not be successful in identifying and acquiring cemeteries or funeral homes on terms favorable to us or at all and may face competition from other death care companies in making acquisitions. In addition, if we complete acquisitions, we may encounter various associated risks, including the inability to integrate an acquired business into our operations, diversion of management’s attention and unanticipated problems or liabilities, some or all of which could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial performance. Moreover, if we acquire cemeteries that do not have an existing pre-need sales program or a significant amount of pre-need products and services that have been sold but not yet purchased or performed, the operation of the cemetery and implementation of a pre-need sales program after acquisition may require significant amounts of working capital.

We are also limited by our Indenture, which prohibits us from incurring additional debt or liens for acquisitions and engaging in certain asset sale transactions (subject to very limited exceptions), as well as restricts our use of proceeds from asset sale transactions.

If our execution and implementation of divestitures and acquisitions is unsuccessful, our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow could be adversely affected. We may also incur asset impairment charges related to divestitures or acquisitions that would reduce our earnings.

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We have identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and determined that our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective which could, if not remediated, result in additional material misstatements in our financial statements and may adversely affect our liquidity, the market for our common shares and our business.

Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over our financial reporting, as defined in Rules 13a- 15(e) and 13a-15(f), respectively, under the Exchange Act. Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide timely, reliable and accurate financial reports, identify and proactively correct any deficiencies, material weaknesses or fraud and meet our reporting obligations. As disclosed in Part II, Item 9A. Controls and Procedures of this Annual Report, management identified material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting and concluded our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective as of December 31, 2018. A material weakness is defined as a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis. Our independent registered public accounting firm also expressed an adverse opinion on the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.

We have commenced our remediation efforts as discussed in Part II, Item 9A. Controls and Procedures of this Annual Report to address the material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting and ineffective disclosure controls and procedures, which may include replacing and or enhancing our accounting systems in order to better perform the evaluation needed to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. If accounting systems are not successfully implemented or we encounter other difficulties, we might incur significant unexpected expenses in order to perform the Section 404 evaluation and our ability to file timely with the SEC may be adversely impacted. In addition, if our remedial measures are insufficient, or if additional material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal controls occur in the future, we could be required to further restate our financial results, which could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition, restrict our ability to access the capital markets, require us to expend significant resources to correct the material weaknesses or deficiencies, harm our reputation or otherwise cause a decline in investor confidence.

We rely significantly on information technology and any failure, inadequacy, interruption or security lapse of that technology, including any cybersecurity incidents, could harm our ability to operate our business effectively.

Our ability to manage and maintain our internal reports effectively and integrate new business acquisitions depends significantly on our operational technology platform and other information systems. Some of our information technology systems may experience interruptions, delays or cessations of service or produce errors in connection with ongoing systems implementation work. Cybersecurity attacks in particular are evolving and include, but are not limited to, malicious software, attempts to gain unauthorized access to data and other electronic security breaches that could lead to disruptions in systems and corruption of data. The failure of our systems to operate effectively or to integrate with other systems or a breach in security or other unauthorized access of these systems may also result in reduced efficiency of our operations and could require significant capital investments to remediate any such failure, problem or breach and to comply with applicable regulations, all of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Any failure to maintain the security of the information relating to our customers, their loved ones, our employees and our vendors could damage our reputation, cause us to incur substantial additional costs and make us subject to litigation, all of which could adversely affect our operating results, financial condition or cash flow.

In the ordinary course of our business, we receive certain personal information, in both physical and electronic formats, about our customers, their loved ones, our employees and our vendors. In addition, our online operations depend upon the secure transmission of confidential information over public networks, including information permitting electronic payments. We maintain security measures and data backup systems to protect, store and prevent unauthorized access to such information. However, it is possible that computer hackers and others (through cyberattacks, which are rapidly evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated, or by other means) might defeat our security measures in the future and obtain the personal information of customers, their loved ones, our employees and our vendors that we hold. In addition, our employees, contractors or third parties with whom we do business may attempt to circumvent our security measures to misappropriate such information and may purposefully or inadvertently cause a breach, corruption or data loss involving such information. A breach of our security measures or failure in our backup systems could adversely affect our reputation with our customers and their loved ones, our employees and our vendors, as well as our operations, results of operations, financial condition and cash flow. It could also result in litigation against us or the imposition of penalties. Moreover, a security breach could require that we expend significant additional resources to upgrade further the security measures that we employ to guard such important personal information against cyberattacks and other attempts to access such information and could result in a disruption of our operations.

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The financial condition of third-party insurance companies that fund our pre-need funeral contracts and the amount of benefits those policies ultimately pay may impact our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

Where permitted, customers may arrange their pre-need funeral contract by purchasing a life insurance or annuity policy from third-party insurance companies. The customer/policy holder assigns the policy benefits to our funeral home to pay for the pre-need funeral contract at the time of need. For the sales of pre-need funeral contracts funded through life insurance policies, we receive commissions from third-party insurance companies. Additionally, there is a death benefit associated with the contract that may vary over the contract life. There is no guarantee that the value of the death benefit will increase or cover future increases in the cost of providing a funeral service. If the financial condition of the third-party insurance companies were to deteriorate materially because of market conditions or otherwise, there could be an adverse effect on our ability to collect all or part of the proceeds of the life insurance or annuity policy, including any increase in the death benefit. Failure to collect such proceeds could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

Our liquidity may be impacted by our ability to negotiate bonding arrangements with third-party insurance companies.

Where permitted, we may enter into bonding arrangements with insurance companies, whereby pre-need performance obligations otherwise required to be trusted may be insured through a process called bonding. In the event that we are unable to deliver on bonded pre-need contract sales at the time of need, the insurance company will provide cash sufficient to deliver goods for the respective pre-need sale item. On an ongoing basis, we must negotiate acceptable terms of these various bonding arrangements, and the insurance company may require us to provide cash collateral from time to time under certain circumstances. To the extent we are unable to negotiate acceptable terms for such arrangements and thus are no longer able to maintain existing bonds, we would need to deposit the corresponding amounts in the merchandise trusts. In addition, the insurance companies may increasingly require us to provide cash collateral for such surety bonds in light of our financial condition. We may be required to provide additional cash collateral from time to time under certain circumstances. Any of these actions would have an adverse impact on our liquidity.

Litigation or legal proceedings could expose us to significant liabilities and damage our reputation.

From time to time, we are party to various claims and legal proceedings, including, but not limited to, claims and proceedings regarding employment, cemetery or burial practices and other litigation. As set forth more fully in Part I, Item 3. Legal Proceedings and Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, Note 15 Commitments and Contingencies of this Annual Report, we are currently subject to state law claims that certain of our officers and directors breached their fiduciary duty to the Company. We could also become subject to additional claims and legal proceedings relating to the factual allegations made in these actions. We are also subject to class or collective actions under the wage and hours provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour laws, including, but not limited to, national and state class or collective actions, or putative class or collective actions.

Adverse outcomes in some or all of our pending cases may result in significant monetary damages or injunctive relief against us, as litigation and other claims are subject to inherent uncertainties. Any such adverse outcomes, in pending cases or other lawsuits that may arise in the future, could have a material adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations and cash flow. While we hold insurance policies that may reduce cash outflows with respect to adverse outcomes of certain litigation matters, these insurance policies exclude certain claims, such as claims arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In addition, litigation claims and legal proceedings could demand substantial amounts of our management’s time, resulting in the diversion of our management resources from effectively managing our business operations, and costs to defend litigation claims and legal proceedings could be material. Any adverse publicity resulting from allegations made in litigation claims or legal proceedings may also adversely affect our reputation. All these factors could negatively affect our business and results of operations.

Our ability to use our Net Operating Losses and other tax assets is uncertain.

As of December 31, 2019, we had net operating loss (“NOL”) carryforwards of approximately $423.0 million for U.S. federal income tax purposes and substantial similar tax assets at the federal and state levels. Along with other previous transfers of our interests, we believe the Recapitalization Transactions caused an “ownership change” for income tax purposes, which may significantly limit our ability to use NOLs and certain other tax assets to offset future taxable income, possibly reducing the amount of cash available to us to satisfy our obligations.

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A number of years may elapse before particular tax matters, for which we have established accruals, are audited and finally resolved.

We are subject to federal income tax laws and state tax laws. The number of tax years open to audit varies depending on the tax jurisdiction. The federal statutes of limitations have expired for all tax years prior to 2016, and we are not currently under audit by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”). Various state jurisdictions are conducting sales tax audits from years 2015 to 2019 and escheat audits from year 2005 to present day. While it is often difficult to predict the final outcome or the timing of resolution of any particular tax matter, we believe that our accruals reflect the probable outcome of known tax contingencies. However, unfavorable settlement of any particular issue may reduce a deferred tax asset or require the use of cash, which may have a material adverse impact to our financial statements. Favorable resolution could result in reduced income tax expense reported in the financial statements in the future. For further details, see Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, Note 12 Income Taxes of this Annual Report.

Changes in taxation as well as the inherent difficulty in quantifying potential tax effects of business decisions could have a material adverse effect on the results of our operations, financial condition, or cash flows.

We make judgments regarding the utilization of existing income tax credits and the potential tax effects of various financial transactions and results of operations to estimate our obligations to taxing authorities. Tax obligations include income, franchise, real estate, sales and use and employment-related taxes. These judgments include reserves for potential adverse outcomes regarding tax positions that have been taken. Changes in federal, state, or local tax laws, adverse tax audit results, or adverse tax rulings on positions taken could have a material adverse effect on the results of our operations, financial condition or cash flow.

If the IRS makes audit adjustments to the Partnership’s income tax returns for 2018 or 2019 tax years, it (and some states) may assess and collect any taxes (including any applicable penalties and interest) resulting from such audit adjustment directly from us, in which case our financial condition could be adversely affected.

Pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, for our 2018 and 2019 tax years, if the IRS makes audit adjustments to the Partnership’s income tax returns, it (and some states) may assess and collect any taxes (including any applicable penalties and interest) resulting from such audit adjustment directly from us. To the extent possible under the new rules, we may elect to either pay the taxes (including any applicable penalties and interest) directly to the IRS or, if we are eligible, issue a revised Schedule K-1 to each holder of the Partnership’s common units during the applicable year with respect to an unaudited and adjusted return. Although we may elect to have such unitholders take such audit adjustment into account in accordance with their interests in the Partnership during the tax year under audit, there can be no assurance the election will be practical, permissible or effective in all circumstances. As a result, StoneMor Inc. may be required to pay the necessary taxes, which would mean that our current stockholders may indirectly bear some or all of the impact of the tax liability resulting from such audit adjustment, even if they did not own units in us during the tax year under audit. If, as a result of any such audit adjustment, we are required to make payments of taxes, penalties and/or interest, our financial condition could be adversely affected. These rules were not applicable for tax years beginning on or prior to December 31, 2017.

RISKS RELATED TO OUR INDUSTRY

The cemetery and funeral home industry continues to be competitive, and if we are not able to respond effectively to changing consumer preferences, our market share, revenues and profitability could decrease.

Our ability to compete successfully depends on our management’s forward vision, timely responses to changes in the business environment and the ability of our cemeteries and funeral homes to maintain a good reputation and high professional standards as well as offer products and services at competitive prices. If we are unable to compete successfully, our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be materially adversely affected.

We experience price competition from independent funeral service location and cemetery operators, monument dealers, casket retailers, low-cost funeral providers and other nontraditional providers of merchandise and services. New market entrants tend to attempt to build market share by offering lower cost alternatives. In the past, this price competition has resulted in our losing market share in some markets. In other markets, we have had to reduce prices or offer discounts, thereby reducing profit margins in order to retain or recapture market share. Independent competitors tend to be aggressive in distinguishing themselves by their independent ownership, and they promote their independence through television, radio and print advertising, direct mailings and personal contact. Increasing pressures from new market entrants and continued advertising and marketing by competitors in local markets could cause us to lose market share and revenue. In addition, competitors may change the types or mix of products or services offered. These changes may attract customers, causing us to lose market share

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and revenue as well as to incur costs in response to this competition. Increased use of the internet by customers to research and/or purchase products and services could also have an adverse impact upon our sales and financial results.

Future market share, revenues and profits will depend in part on our ability to anticipate, identify and respond to changing consumer preferences ahead of and/or better than our competitors. In addition, any strategies we may implement to address these trends may prove incorrect or ineffective.

Broad-based business or economic disruptions caused by global health concerns and other crises could adversely affect our business, financial condition, profitability or cash flows.

Global health concerns, such as the COVID-19 Pandemic, could result in social, economic and labor instability that adversely affect our employee and customer relationships, pre-need sales activity, the value of our trust investments and associated funding obligations, and in so doing adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. For example, governmental actions restricting public gatherings and interaction may result in our customers deferring making purchase decisions regarding pre-need arrangements or delay holding funeral services and may result in our inability to operate our cemeteries and funeral homes, which would have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. In addition, our pre-need customers with installment contracts could default on their installment contracts due to lost work or other financial stresses arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Having to adjust our policies and practices to respond to global health concerns could also result in increased operating expenses. We continue to monitor this public health crisis and its impact on our employees, customers and vendors and the overall economic environment within the U.S. and worldwide, but we cannot presently predict the full scope and severity of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Because fixed costs are inherent in our business, a decrease in our revenues can have a disproportionate effect on our cash flow and profits.

Our business requires us to incur many of the costs of operating and maintaining facilities, land and equipment regardless of the level of sales in any given period. For example, we must pay salaries, utilities, property taxes and maintenance costs on our cemetery properties and funeral homes regardless of the number of interments or funeral services we perform. If we cannot decrease these costs significantly or rapidly when we experience declines in sales, declines in sales can cause our margins, profits and cash flow to decline at a greater rate than the decline in our revenues.

If the trend toward cremation in the U.S. continues, our revenues may decline, which could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.

We and other death care companies that focus on traditional methods of interment face competition from the increasing number of cremations in the U.S. Industry studies1 indicate that the percentage of cremations has steadily increased. In 2018, the U.S. cremation rate was 53%, with an annual growth rate from 2013 to 2018 of 1.58%. This percentage is expected to increase to 59% by 2023. Because the products and services associated with cremations, such as niches and urns, produce lower revenues than the products and services associated with traditional interments, a continuing trend toward cremation may reduce our revenues. For the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, sales related to cremations represented 7% and 5%, respectively, of our total consolidated revenues.

Declines in the number of deaths in our markets can cause a decrease in revenues.

Declines in the number of deaths could cause at-need sales of cemetery and funeral home merchandise and services to decline and could cause a decline in the number of pre-need sales, both of which could decrease revenues. Changes in the number of deaths can vary among local markets and from quarter to quarter, and variations in the number of deaths in our markets or from quarter to quarter are not predictable. Generally, the number of deaths may fluctuate depending on weather conditions and illness.

Regulation and compliance could have a material adverse impact on our financial results.

Our operations are subject to regulation, supervision and licensing under numerous federal, state and local laws, ordinances and regulations, including extensive regulations concerning trusts/escrows, pre-need sales, cemetery ownership, funeral home ownership, marketing practices, crematories, environmental matters and various other aspects of our business. For example, the funeral industry is regulated at the federal level by the FTC, which requires funeral service locations to take actions designed to

 

1 

Industry statistics were compiled by the Cremation Association of North America.

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protect consumers. Our facilities are also subject to stringent health, safety, and environmental regulations. Our pay practices, including wage and hour overtime pay, are also subject to federal and state regulations. Violations of applicable laws could result in fines or sanctions against us. We may experience significant increases in costs as a result of business regulations and laws, which are beyond our control, including increases in the cost of health care. Although we seek to control increases in these costs, continued upward pressure on costs could reduce the profitability of our business.

State laws impose licensing requirements and regulate pre-need sales. As such, we are subject to state trust fund and pre-need sales practice audits, which could result in audit adjustments as a result of non-compliance. In addition, we assume the liability for any audit adjustments for our acquired businesses for periods under audit prior to our ownership of these acquired businesses. These audit adjustments could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.

In addition, from time to time, governments and agencies propose to amend or add regulations or reinterpret existing regulations, which could increase costs and decrease cash flows. For example, foreign, federal, state, local, and other regulatory agencies have considered and may enact additional legislation or regulations that could affect the deathcare industry. These include regulations that require more liberal refund and cancellation policies for pre-need sales of products and services, limit or eliminate our ability to use surety bonding, require the escheatment of trust funds, increase trust requirements, require the deposit of funds or collateral to offset unrealized losses of trusts, and/or prohibit the common ownership of funeral service locations and cemeteries in the same market. If adopted by the regulatory authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate, these and other possible proposals could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

Compliance with laws, regulations, industry standards, and customs concerning burial procedures and the handling and care of human remains is critical to the continued success of our business. We continually monitor and review our operations in an effort to ensure that we take the right actions necessary to remaining in compliance with these laws, regulations and standards. However, litigation and regulatory proceedings regarding these issues could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flow.

For additional information regarding the regulation of the funeral and cemetery industry, see Part I, Item 1. Business, Regulation of this Annual Report.

We are subject to legal restrictions on our marketing practices that could reduce the volume of our sales, which could have an adverse effect on our business, operations and financial condition.

The enactment or amendment of legislation or regulations relating to marketing activities may make it more difficult for us to sell our products and services. For example, the federal "do not call" legislation has adversely affected our ability to market our products and services using telephone solicitation, by limiting whom we may call and increasing our costs of compliance. As a result, we rely heavily on direct mail marketing and telephone follow-up with existing contacts. Additional laws or regulations limiting our ability to market through direct mail, over the telephone, through Internet and e-mail advertising or door-to-door may make it difficult to identify potential customers, which could increase our costs of marketing. Both increases in marketing costs and restrictions on our ability to market effectively could reduce our revenues and could have an adverse effect on our business, operations and financial condition, as well as our ability to make cash distributions to our stockholders.

RISK FACTORS RELATED TO OWNING OUR COMMON STOCK

Axar holds a majority of the voting power of our common stock.

Axar Capital Management L.P. and its affiliates (collectively, “Axar”) beneficially owns more than 52% of our outstanding common stock and, as a result, has the ability to elect all of the members of our Board of Directors other than one director whose nomination and election is the subject of a separate voting agreement. In addition, it will be able to determine the outcome of all other matters requiring stockholder approval, including certain mergers and other material transactions, and will be able to cause or prevent a change in the composition of our Board of Directors or a change in control of our Company that could deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their common stock as part of a sale of our Company. So long as Axar continues to own a significant amount of our outstanding shares, even if such amount is less than 50%, it will continue to be able to strongly influence all matters requiring stockholder approval, regardless of whether or not other stockholders believe that the transaction is in their own best interests. Axar’s ownership interest also makes us a “controlled company” within the meaning of the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) listing standards. Our Corporate Governance Guidelines, consistent with the listing standards applicable to companies that are not controlled companies, require that a majority of our directors and all of the members of our Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee be independent within the meaning of those standards. However, we can amend our Corporate Governance Guidelines in our

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Board’s discretion, and as a controlled company, we are not subject to the requirement that a majority of our directors and all of the members of our Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee be independent.

Economic, financial and stock market fluctuations could affect future potential earnings and cash flows and could result in future intangible asset and long-lived asset impairments.

In addition to an annual review, we assess the impairment of our goodwill, intangible assets and other long-lived assets whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value may be greater than fair value and therefore not fully recoverable. Recoverability of these assets is measured by a comparison of the carrying amount of the assets to the future net cash flow, undiscounted and without interest, expected to be generated by the assets. Factors that could trigger an interim impairment review include, but are not limited to, a significant decline in the market value of our stock or debt values, significant under-performance relative to historical or projected future operating results, and significant negative industry or economic trends. In 2019, we determined that the continued decline of our sales during 2019 was a triggering event that warranted an impairment assessment of our definite-lived and long-lived intangible assets. Based on the results of our interim goodwill impairment assessment for the third quarter of 2019, we concluded our goodwill was fully impaired as of September 30, 2019, and recorded a loss on goodwill impairment of $24.9 million in the consolidated statement of operations for the year ended December 31, 2019. Based on the results of our impairment tests of our long-lived assets throughout 2019, we concluded certain of our long-lived assets were impaired by a total of $2.9 million during year ended December 31, 2019, which was included in Other losses, net in the consolidated statement of operations for the year ended December 31, 2019 in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.

We do not expect to pay dividends on our common stock for the foreseeable future.

Due to our continued high level of indebtedness and limited liquidity, we do not expect to pay dividends for the foreseeable future. In addition, the Indenture governing our Senior Secured Notes prohibits us from paying any dividends with limited exceptions.

ITEM 1B.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

Not applicable.

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ITEM 2.

PROPERTIES

CEMETERIES AND FUNERAL HOMES

The following table summarizes the distribution of our cemetery and funeral home properties by state as of December 31, 2019 as well as the average estimated remaining sales life in years for our cemeteries based upon the number of interment spaces sold during the most recent three years:

 

 

Cemeteries

 

 

Funeral

Homes

 

 

Cemetery

Net Acres

 

 

Average

Estimated Net

Sales Life

in Years

 

 

Number

of Interment

Spaces Sold

in 2019

 

Alabama

 

 

9

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

305

 

 

 

204

 

 

 

753

 

California

 

 

7

 

 

 

7

 

 

 

272

 

 

 

67

 

 

 

1,238

 

Colorado

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

433

 

 

 

32

 

Delaware

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

216

 

 

 

8

 

Florida

 

 

9

 

 

 

28

 

 

 

278

 

 

 

101

 

 

 

861

 

Georgia

 

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

135

 

 

 

160

 

 

 

452

 

Illinois

 

 

11

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

438

 

 

 

57

 

 

 

1,043

 

Indiana

 

 

11

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

1,013

 

 

 

240

 

 

 

863

 

Iowa

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

89

 

 

 

479

 

 

 

77

 

Kansas

 

 

3

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

84

 

 

 

176

 

 

 

242

 

Kentucky

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

59

 

 

 

139

 

 

 

82

 

Maryland

 

 

10

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

716

 

 

 

202

 

 

 

1,067

 

Michigan

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

818

 

 

 

337

 

 

 

823

 

Mississippi

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

44

 

 

 

396

 

 

 

27

 

Missouri

 

 

6

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

277

 

 

 

279

 

 

 

376

 

New Jersey

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

341

 

 

 

76

 

 

 

1,076

 

North Carolina

 

 

19

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

619

 

 

 

189

 

 

 

996

 

Ohio

 

 

13

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

627

 

 

 

327

 

 

 

603

 

Oregon

 

 

7

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

162

 

 

 

260

 

 

 

406

 

Pennsylvania

 

 

68

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

5,319

 

 

 

352

 

 

 

8,090

 

Puerto Rico

 

 

7

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

209

 

 

 

97

 

 

 

593

 

Rhode Island

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

70

 

 

 

193

 

 

 

30

 

South Carolina

 

 

8

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

395

 

 

 

312

 

 

 

290

 

Tennessee

 

 

11

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

657

 

 

 

189

 

 

 

1,148

 

Virginia

 

 

34

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1,183

 

 

 

246

 

 

 

1,737

 

Washington

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

33

 

 

 

62

 

 

 

125

 

West Virginia

 

 

33

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1,404

 

 

 

617

 

 

 

650

 

Wisconsin

 

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

533

 

 

 

201

 

 

 

694

 

Total

 

 

321

 

 

 

90

 

 

 

16,104

 

 

 

243

 

 

 

24,382

 

We calculated estimated remaining sales life for each of our cemeteries by dividing the number of unsold interment spaces as of December 31, 2019 by the average number of interment spaces sold at that cemetery in the three most recent fiscal years. For purposes of estimating remaining sales life, we defined unsold interment spaces as unsold burial lots and unsold spaces in existing mausoleum crypts as of December 31, 2019. We defined interment spaces sold in the three most recent fiscal years as:

 

the number of burial lots sold, net of cancellations, over such period;

 

the number of spaces sold over such period in existing mausoleum crypts, net of cancellations; and

 

the number of spaces sold over such period in mausoleum crypts that we have not yet built, net of cancellations.

We count the sale of a double-depth burial lot as the sale of two interment spaces since a double-depth burial lot includes two interment rights. For the same reason we count an unsold double-depth burial lot as two unsold interment spaces. Because our sales of cremation niches were immaterial, we did not include cremation niches in the calculation of estimated remaining sales life. When calculating estimated remaining sales life, we did not take into account any future cemetery expansion. In addition, sales of an unusually high or low number of interment spaces in a particular year affect our calculation of estimated remaining sales life. Future sales may differ from previous years’ sales, and actual remaining sales life may differ from our estimates. We calculated the average estimated remaining sales life by aggregating unsold interment spaces and interment spaces sold on a

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state-by-state or company-wide basis. Based on the average number of interment spaces sold in the last three fiscal years, we estimate that our cemeteries have an aggregate average remaining sales life of 243 years.

The following table shows the cemetery properties that we owned or operated as of December 31, 2019, grouped by estimated remaining sales life:

 

 

0 - 25

years

 

 

26 - 49

years

 

 

50 - 100

years

 

 

101 - 150

years

 

 

151 - 200

years

 

 

Over 200

years

 

Alabama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

California

 

 

1

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Delaware

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Florida

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

Georgia

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

Illinois

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

3

 

Indiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

6

 

Iowa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Kentucky

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Maryland

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

5

 

Michigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

7

 

Mississippi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

Missouri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

New Jersey

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

11

 

Ohio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

9

 

Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

Pennsylvania

 

 

9

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

46

 

Puerto Rico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Rhode Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

South Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

Tennessee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

Virginia

 

 

3

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

22

 

Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

23

 

Wisconsin

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

11

 

Total

 

 

28

 

 

 

12

 

 

 

40

 

 

 

46

 

 

 

17

 

 

 

178

 

We believe that we have either satisfactory title to or valid rights to use all of our cemetery properties. The 30 cemetery properties that we manage or operate under long-term lease, operating or management agreements have nonprofit owners. We believe that these cemeteries have either satisfactory title to or valid rights to use these cemetery properties and that we have valid rights to use these properties under the long-term agreements. Although title to the cemetery properties is subject to encumbrances, such as liens for taxes, encumbrances securing payment obligations, easements, restrictions and immaterial encumbrances, we do not believe that any of these burdens should materially detract from the value of these properties or from our interest in these properties nor should these burdens materially interfere with the use of our cemetery properties in the operation of our business as described above. Many of our cemetery properties are located in zoned regions, and we believe that cemetery use is permitted for those cemeteries: (i) as expressly permitted under applicable zoning ordinances; (ii) through a special exception to applicable zoning designations; or (iii) as an existing non-conforming use.

OTHER

Our home office is located in a 57,000 square foot leased space in Trevose, Pennsylvania, with a lease that expires in 2028, with certain contractual renewal options. We are also tenants under various leases covering office spaces other than our corporate headquarters.

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ITEM 3.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

For information regarding our significant pending administrative and judicial proceedings involving regulatory, operating, transactional, environmental, and other matters, see Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data—Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements—Note 15 Commitments and Contingencies.

We and certain of our subsidiaries are parties to legal proceedings that have arisen in the ordinary course of business. We do not expect such matters to have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows. We carry insurance with coverage and coverage limits that we believe to be customary in the cemetery and funeral home industry. Although there can be no assurance that such insurance will be sufficient to protect us against such contingencies, we believe that our insurance protection is reasonable in view of the nature and scope of our operations.

ITEM 4.

MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

 

 

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PART II

ITEM 5.

MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

MARKET INFORMATION

Our common stock is listed on the NYSE under the symbol "STON".

HOLDERS

As of March 25, 2020, there were approximately 11 holders of record of our common stock. The number of record holders does not include persons who held our common stock in nominee or “street name” accounts through brokers.

PERFORMANCE GRAPH

As a smaller reporting company, we have elected not to provide the performance graph otherwise required by this Item.

RECENT SALES OF UNREGISTERED SECURITIES; USE OF PROCEEDS FROM REGISTERED SECURITIES

Purchases of Equity Securities

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Period

 

(a)

Total Number of Units Purchased(1)

 

 

(b)

Average Price Paid per Unit(2)

 

 

(c)

Total Number of Units Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs

 

 

(d)

Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Units that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs

 

April 1, 2019 - April 25, 2019

 

 

18,265

 

 

$

3.91

 

 

 

 

 

$

 

May 1, 2019

 

 

167

 

 

 

3.90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 1, 2019

 

 

167

 

 

 

2.40

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 1, 2019 - July 18, 2019

 

 

17,438

 

 

 

1.97

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 1, 2019

 

 

376,518

 

 

 

1.80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 1, 2019

 

 

167

 

 

 

1.10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2019 - October 18, 2019

 

 

16,081

 

 

 

1.14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

428,803

 

 

$

1.87

 

 

 

 

 

$

 

(1)

All of these units represent units that were withheld upon the vesting of awards under the StoneMor 2019 Amended and Restated Long-Term Incentive Plan (the “2019 Plan”) to satisfy certain tax obligations of the recipients of such awards arising from the vesting thereof and thus may be deemed to have been repurchased by the Company.

(2)

The value of the units withheld was the closing price of the Company’s common units on the last trading day before the date on which such units were withheld.

ITEM 6.

SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA

As a smaller reporting company, we have elected not to provide the disclosure otherwise required under this Item.

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ITEM 7.

MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

Management’s discussion and analysis presented below provides information to assist in understanding the Company’s financial condition and results of operations and should be read in conjunction with the Company’s consolidated financial statements included in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report.

Certain statements contained in this Annual Report, including, but not limited to, information regarding our operating activities, the plans and objectives of our management and assumptions regarding our future performance and plans are forward-looking statements. When used in this Annual Report, the words “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on management’s expectations and estimates. These statements are neither promises nor guarantees and are made subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results stated or implied in this Annual Report. We believe the assumptions underlying the consolidated financial statements are reasonable.

Our risks and uncertainties are more particularly described in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors of this Annual Report. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report, which speak only as of the date the statements were made. Except as required by applicable laws, we undertake no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

We are one of the leading providers of funeral and cemetery products and services in the death care industry in the United States (“U.S.”). As of December 31, 2019, we operated 321 cemeteries in 27 states and Puerto Rico, of which 291 were owned and 30 were operated under leases, operating agreements or management agreements. We also owned, operated or managed 90 funeral homes in 17 states and Puerto Rico. On December 31, 2019, we consummated the C-Corporation Conversion for the purpose of transitioning the Partnership and its affiliates from a master limited partnership structure to a corporate form. See Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data—Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements—Note 1 General of this Annual Report for further information related to the C-Corporation Conversion.

Our revenue is derived from our Cemetery Operations and Funeral Home Operations segments. Our Cemetery Operations segment principally generates revenue from sales of interment rights, cemetery merchandise, which includes markers, bases, vaults, caskets and cremation niches and our cemetery services, which include opening and closing (“O&C”) services, cremation services and fees for the installation of cemetery merchandise. Our Funeral Home Operations segment principally generates revenue from sales of funeral home merchandise, which includes caskets and other funeral related items and service revenues, which include services such as family consultation, the removal of and preparation of remains and the use of funeral home facilities for visitation and prayer services. These sales occur both at the time of death, which we refer to as at-need, and prior to the time of death, which we refer to as pre-need. Our Funeral Home Operations segment also include revenues related to the sale of term and whole life insurance on an agency basis, in which we earn a commission from the sales of these insurance policies.

The pre-need sales enhance our financial position by providing a backlog of future revenue from both trust and insurance-funded pre-need funeral and cemetery sales. We believe pre-need sales add to the stability and predictability of our revenues and cash flows. Pre-need sales are typically sold on an installment plan. While revenue on the majority of pre-need funeral sales is deferred until the time of need, sales of pre-need cemetery property interment rights provide opportunities for full current revenue recognition when the property is available for use by the customer.

We also earn investment income on certain payments received from customers on pre-need contracts, which are required by law to be deposited into the merchandise and service trusts. Amounts are withdrawn from the merchandise and service trusts when we fulfill the performance obligations. Earnings on these trust funds, which are specifically identifiable for each performance obligation, are also included in the total transaction price. For sales of interment rights, a portion of the cash proceeds received are required to be deposited into a perpetual care trust. While the principal balance of the perpetual care trust must remain in the trust in perpetuity, we recognize investment income on such assets as revenue, excluding realized gains and losses from the sale of trust assets. Pre-need contracts are subject to financing arrangements on an installment basis, with a contractual term not to exceed 60 months. Interest income is recognized utilizing the effective interest method. For those contracts that do not bear a market rate of interest, we impute such interest based upon the prime rate at the time of origination plus 150 basis points in order to segregate the principal and interest components of the total contract value.

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Our revenue depends upon the demand for funeral and cemetery services and merchandise, which can be influenced by a variety of factors, some of which are beyond our control including demographic trends, such as population growth, average age, death rates and number of deaths. Our operating results and cash flows could also be influenced by our ability to remain relevant to the customers. We provide a variety of unique product and service offerings to meet the needs of our customers’ families. The mix of services could influence operating results, as it influences the average revenue per contract. Expense management, which includes controlling salaries, merchandise costs, corporate overhead and other expense categories, could also impact operating results and cash flows. Lastly, economic conditions, legislative and regulatory changes and tax law changes, all of which are beyond our control, could impact our operating results and cash flows.

For further discussion of our key operating metrics, see our Results of Operations and Liquidity and Capital Resources sections below.

RECENT EVENTS

The following are key events and transactions that have occurred since January 1, 2019 that were material to us and/or facilitate an understanding of our consolidated financial statements contained in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report:

 

COVID-19 Pandemic. See the following section “General Trends and Outlook” of Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for discussion on the impact we have seen on our business as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic;

 

Divestitures. On January 3, 2020, we consummated the Oakmont Sale with Carriage Funeral Holdings, Inc. for an aggregate cash purchase price of $33.0 million. The divested assets consisted of one cemetery, one funeral home and certain related assets. In March 2020, we entered into the Olivet Agreement with Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association to sell substantially all of the assets of the cemetery, funeral establishment and crematory commonly known as Olivet Memorial Park, Olivet Funeral and Cremation Services and Olivet Memorial Park & Crematory for a net cash purchase price of $24.3 million, subject to certain adjustments. In addition, in March 2020, we entered into the California Agreement with certain entities owned by John Yeatman and Guy Saxton to sell substantially all of our remaining California properties, consisting of five cemeteries, six funeral establishments and four crematories for a cash purchase price of $7.1 million, subject to certain closing adjustments. In January 2020, we redeemed an aggregate $30.4 million of principal on the Senior Secured Notes, primarily using the net proceeds from the Oakmont Sale. Per the Indenture, we anticipate using the first $23.7 million of net proceeds and 80% of the remaining net proceeds from the Olivet Sale along with 80% of the net proceeds from the Remaining California Sale to redeem additional portions of the outstanding Senior Secured Notes;

 

Amendments to Indenture and Capital Raise in 2020. On April 1, 2020, the Partnership, Cornerstone Family Services of West Virginia Subsidiary, Inc. and Wilmington Trust, National Association, as trustee, entered into the Supplemental Indenture. Pursuant to the terms of the Supplemental Indenture, several financial covenants were amended. The amendments effected by the Supplemental Indenture will become operational when we pay a $5 million consent fee to the holders of the Senior Secured Notes, of which $3.5 million will be paid in cash and $1.5 million will be paid by increasing the principal amount of the Senior Secured Notes outstanding, and satisfy other specified conditions. Concurrently with the execution of the Supplemental Indenture, we entered the Axar Commitment pursuant to which Axar committed to (a) purchase shares of our Series A Preferred Stock with an aggregate purchase price of $8.8 million on April 3, 2020, (b) exercise its basic rights in the rights offering by tendering the shares of Series A Preferred Stock so purchased for shares of Common Stock and (c) purchase any shares offered in the rights offering for which other stockholders do not exercise their rights, up to a maximum of an additional $8.2 million of such shares. We did not pay Axar any commitment, backstop or other fees in connection with the Axar Commitment. As contemplated by the Axar Commitment, on April 3, 2020, we sold an aggregate of 176 shares of our Series A Preferred Stock to the 2020 Purchasers for an aggregate purchase price of $8.8 million. Under the terms of the Supplemental Indenture and the Axar Commitment, we agreed to undertake an offering to holders of our Common Stock of transferable rights to purchase their pro rata share of shares of Common Stock with an aggregate exercise price of at least $17 million at a price of $0.73 per share. The rights offering period, during which the rights will be transferable, will be no less than 20 calendar days and no more than 45 calendar days. We agreed to use our best efforts to complete the rights offering with an expiration date no later than July 24, 2020. For further details, see Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data—Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements—Note 26 Subsequent Events of this Annual Report;

 

Reduction in Workforce. On January 31, 2019, we announced a profit improvement initiative as part of our ongoing organizational review. This profit improvement initiative is intended to further integrate, streamline and optimize our operations. As part of this profit improvement initiative, during 2019 we undertook certain cost reduction initiatives,

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which included a reduction of approximately 200 positions of our workforce within our field operations and corporate functions in our headquarters located in Trevose, Pennsylvania;

 

Recapitalization Transactions in 2019. On June 27, 2019, we closed a $447.5 million recapitalization transaction, consisting of (i) the sale of an aggregate of 52,083,333 of the Partnership’s Series A Preferred Units representing limited partner interests in the Partnership at a purchase price of $1.1040 per Preferred Unit, reflecting an 8% discount to the liquidation preference of each Preferred Unit, for an aggregate purchase price of $57.5 million and (ii) a concurrent private placement of the Senior Secured Notes to certain financial institutions. The net proceeds of the Recapitalization Transactions were used to fully repay our outstanding senior notes due in June 2021 and retire the revolving credit facility due in May 2020, as well as for associated transaction expenses, cash collateralization of existing letters of credit and other needs under the former credit facility, with the balance available for general corporate purposes;

 

Board Reconstitution. In connection with the closing of the Recapitalization Transactions, our Board of Directors was reconstituted. Directors Martin R. Lautman, Ph.D., Leo J. Pound, Robert A Sick and Fenton R. Talbott resigned as directors and the authorized number of directors was reduced to seven. Andrew Axelrod, David Miller and Spencer Goldenberg were elected to fill the vacancies created by the resignations. The reconstituted board is comprised of Messrs. Axelrod, Miller and Goldenberg, Robert B. Hellman, Jr., Stephen Negrotti, Patricia Wellenbach and Joseph M. Redling. Mr. Axelrod serves as the chairman of the board;

 

Changes in Executive Management. On April 15, 2019, Garry P. Herdler became our Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, replacing Mark Miller. On September 19, 2019,

 

Jeffrey DiGiovanni became our Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, replacing Garry P. Herdler. With Mr. DiGiovanni’s promotion, the roles of Chief Accounting Officer and Chief Financial Officer were combined;

 

Jim Ford resigned from the Company, and the role of Chief Operating Officer was eliminated; and

 

Tom Connolly became our Senior Vice President of Business Planning and Operations;

 

C-Corporation Conversion. On December 31, 2019, we completed the C-Corporation Conversion; and

 

Lease Accounting Standard. Effective January 1, 2019, we adopted the new lease accounting standard as further discussed in Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data—Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements—Note 1 General of this Annual Report which resulted in an increase in other assets of $15.3 million and increases of $2.2 million and $13.1 million in accounts payable and accrued liabilities and other long-term liabilities, respectively, in the consolidated balance sheet. The adoption did not have a material impact on our results of operations or cash flows.

GENERAL TRENDS AND OUTLOOK

We expect our business to be affected by key trends in the death care industry, based upon assumptions made by us and information currently available. Death care industry factors affecting our financial position and results of operations include, but are not limited to, death rates, per capita disposable income, demographic trends in terms of number of adults aged 65 and older, cremation rates and trends and e-commerce sales. The number of deaths which is related to the age structure of the population, mortality rates, disease prevalence, natural disasters, sudden accidents, suicides and other causes drives industry revenue. With the aging of the U.S. population, the number of deaths is expected to increase over the next few years. Per the report by Max Roser titled, Future Population Growth, projected deaths per year in the U.S. are expected to increase by 12% from 2019 to 2028.

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Number of births and deaths per year, United States

Source: Max Roser (2020) - "Future Population Growth". Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: 'https://ourworldindata.org/future-population-growth' [Online Resource]

The growth of per capita disposable income is positively correlated with industry performance, as with higher per capita income, consumers are more likely to choose full-service traditional funerals over cremation and purchase additional expensive merchandise and services. The proportion of the population aged 65 and older is a positive indicator of demand for cemetery services, as this age segment of the population accounts for the majority of all deaths and are most likely to purchase pre-need services and merchandise. Per the report published by IBISWorld in June 2019 titled, IBISWorld Industry Report 81221: Funeral Homes in the US, individuals aged 65 and older are projected to account for 73.9% of market demand in the funeral operations industry in 2019. Per the report published by IBISWorld in April 2019 titled, IBISWorld Industry Report 81222: Cemetery Services in the US, individuals aged 55 and older are projected to account for 86.3% of market demand in the cemetery services industry in 2019.

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Major Market Segmentation by Age (2019)

Funeral Homes Industry (U.S.)

Cemetery Operations Industry (U.S.)

 

Cremations typically cost significantly less than traditional burial services and bring in significantly less revenue and profit for cemeteries and funeral homes. The rising demand for cremations due to cost considerations, increased mobility of the population, environmental reasons, religious considerations and changing consumer preferences present a potential threat to the cemetery services and funeral homes industries. Per the National Funeral Directors Association’s 2019 Cremation & Burial Report, the cremation rate within the U.S. began to exceed the burial rate within the U.S. around the year 2015, and is expected to be over 60% by the year 2025.

Rates of Burial and Cremation

Source: 2019 NFDA Cremation & Burial Report

 

Funeral homes have traditionally benefited from limited competition for industry products, such as caskets and urns; however, online retailers are beginning to encroach on this market sector by offering these products to consumers at more cost-effective prices.

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In addition, we are subject to fluctuations in the fair value of equity and fixed-maturity debt securities held in our trusts. These values can be negatively impacted by contractions in the credit market and overall downturns in economic activity. Our ability to make payments on our debt depends on our success at managing operations with respect to these industry trends. To the extent our underlying assumptions about or interpretations of available information prove to be incorrect, our actual results may vary materially from our expected results.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China in December 2019 has since reached pandemic proportions, posing a significant threat to the health and economic wellbeing of our employees, customers and vendors. Currently, our operations have been deemed essential by the state and local governments in which we operate, with the exception of Puerto Rico, and we are actively working with federal, state and local government officials to ensure that we continue to satisfy their requirements for offering our essential services The operation of all of our facilities is critically dependent on the employees who staff these locations. To ensure the wellbeing of our employees and their families, we have provided all of our employees with detailed health and safety literature on COVID-19, such as the CDC’s industry-specific guidelines for working with the deceased who were and may have been infected with COVID-19. In addition, our procurement and safety teams have updated and developed new safety-oriented guidelines to support daily field operations and provided personal protection equipment to those employees whose positions necessitate them, and we have implemented work from home policies at our corporate office consistent with CDC guidance to reduce the risks of exposure to COVID-19 while still supporting the families that we serve.

Our marketing and sales team has quickly responded to the sales challenges presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic by implementing virtual meeting options using a variety of web-based tools to ensure that we can continue to connect with and meet our customers’ needs in a safe, effective and productive manner. Some of our locations have also started providing live video streaming of their funeral and burial services to our customers, so that family and friends can connect virtually during their time of grief. 

Like most businesses world-wide, the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted us financially; however, we cannot presently predict the scope and severity with which COVID-19 will impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. As recently as early March 2020, we were experiencing sales growth for the first quarter of 2020, as compared to the first quarter of 2019. However, over the last two weeks, we have seen our pre-need sales activity decline as Americans practice social distancing. In addition, our pre-need customers with installment contracts could default on their installment contracts due to lost work or other financial stresses arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic. While we expect our pre-need sales to be challenged during the COVID 19 Pandemic, we believe the implementation of our virtual meeting tools is one of several key steps to mitigate this disruption. In addition, we expect that throughout this disruption our cemeteries and funeral homes will remain open and available to serve our families in all the locations in which we operate to the extent permitted by local authorities, with the exception of Puerto Rico.

Business Strategies

We believe the Recapitalization Transactions demonstrate both strong underlying values of our asset base as well as confidence in our ability to execute our turnaround plan. We believe the recapitalization of our balance sheet has reset our financial footing and helps position us to execute the following business strategies:

 

Execute on Financial Strategy. The Recapitalization Transactions have significantly extended our debt capital structure with a five-year maturity, which provides us with a meaningful liquidity improvement to execute our turnaround strategy, including the next phase of our performance improvement plans. In April 2019, we announced a turnaround strategy focused on four key goals: cash flow and liquidity, capital structure, strategic balance sheet/portfolio review, and performance improvement from cost reductions and revenue enhancement;

 

Implementation of New Strategic Initiatives. We view our substantial and diverse asset base as a strength, but we have prioritized the ways in which we view our assets. We believe that by tiering operating units by class and contribution, initiating a divestiture plan for select assets and prioritizing certain assets over others, we will be able to optimize results in our top tier properties and more efficiently manage our assets. From a portfolio review perspective, we continue to focus our resources on improving our “top tier” assets as we believe they possess the greatest potential for improved profitability. We are also minimizing costs and resources on our “lower-tier” assets to reduce the impact these assets have on profitability of the portfolio; and

 

Improve Operating Efficiencies. We believe we have identified significant expense reduction opportunities in the next phase of this operational turnaround strategy with additional “4-wall level” operational savings, identified projects and industry benchmarking. In addition, we are focused on improving performance through cost reductions

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and revenue enhancement and executing on other long and short-term turnaround strategies that will allow us to meet our primary objectives on a continuing basis. The next phase of cost reduction and operational performance improvement opportunities have now been identified with a focus on prioritizing identified opportunities in procurement, sourcing, product hierarchy, field labor efficiencies, shared services and outsourcing. We believe that the execution of these initiatives will result in improved profitability and cash flow across the asset base. In terms of revenue enhancements, we believe we have identified the primary drivers of our sales productivity and pre-need sales issues and, while it is in the early stages, we remain focused on improving retention of sales personnel and optimizing staffing levels across our asset base.

RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

We have two distinct reportable segments, Cemetery Operations and Funeral Home Operations, which are supported by corporate costs and expenses.

Cemetery Operations

Overview

We are currently one of the largest owners and operators of cemeteries in the United States of America. As of December 31, 2019, we operated 321 cemeteries in 27 states and Puerto Rico. We own 291 of these cemeteries, and we manage or operate the remaining 30 under leases, operating agreements or management agreements. Revenues from our Cemetery Operations segment accounted for approximately 82% and 83% of our total revenues during the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Year Ended December 31, 2019 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2018

The following table presents operating results for our Cemetery Operations segment for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018 (in thousands):

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variance

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

$

 

 

%

 

Interments

 

$

67,425

 

 

$

76,902

 

 

$

(9,477

)

 

 

(12

%)

Merchandise

 

 

64,476

 

 

 

75,412

 

 

 

(10,936

)

 

 

(15

%)

Services

 

 

65,494

 

 

 

67,278

 

 

 

(1,784

)

 

 

(3

%)

Interest income

 

 

8,280

 

 

 

8,995

 

 

 

(715

)

 

 

(8

%)

Investment and other

 

 

32,212

 

 

 

33,348

 

 

 

(1,136

)

 

 

(3

%)

Total revenues

 

 

237,887

 

 

 

261,935