Seeking Alpha article explains Carriage Services



About three weeks ago on August 16, 2023, an author at Seeking Alpha published this article on funeral home and cemetery operator Carriage Services.  It is an interesting article that you should read as I think the author has a “better than most” understanding of how the death care market operates.


In the article the author makes several statements specific to Carriage Services and then also describes the funeral profession trends of late and the balancing act that funeral homes, in general, have to overcome to be successful in the era of growing percentage numbers of cremation services.


The article is filled with many charts and graphics about Carriage Services and the profession that make it an interesting article.


Here is some of what is said:


On Carriage Services:

  • “Over the years, the company has been able to post robust growth in its revenues and profits”
  • Over the years, the company’s business model provided healthy levels of cash flow and strong margins.”
  • “As a result of these strong and improving margins, the company’s operating cash flow improved almost consistently from year over for the last two decades.” 
  • “Not all of the company’s growth came organically though. Over the years, the company has made a lot of acquisitions which resulted in higher debt and leverage levels for the company. From 2013 to 2019, the company increased its debt level from $250 million to $550 million while increasing its leverage ratio from 4.5 to 7.0. Since then the company has been working on reducing its debt and leverage ratios and it targets a net debt level of $450 million and leverage ratio of 4.0 by the end of 2024. In order to achieve this, the company will have to slow down on acquisitions and save up some cash.”


On the profession, in general, and the balancing act funeral homes must tread in order to retain profitability:

  • “There is also another growing trend where a larger and larger percentage of people are choosing cremation over a traditional funeral which comes with a lower cost.”
  • “. . . funeral homes will have to look at further increasing their prices to make up for the lower volume of funerals but this might also result in more people opting for cremations if funerals become too expensive. Companies like Carriage Services will have to find a balance where they can generate healthy levels of margins without pushing away too many people from its services.”


Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

Funeral Director Daily take:  All in all, a pretty good and fair article and look at our profession from somebody outside of the inner circles of death care.  I enjoy reading articles like this because they are not tainted by insider perspective and perceptions.  Sometimes it is interesting to see how somebody outside of funeral service looks at our business models.


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