U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 11 mins

Interview with Michael J. Celebrezze, Senior Vice President of Finance, CFO and Treasurer of LCA-Vision Inc. (LCAV)

67 WALL STREET, New York - August 9, 2012 - The Wall Street Transcript has just published its Medical Real Estate Report offering a timely review of the sector to serious investors and industry executives. The full issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.

Topics covered: Healthcare Real Estate Market Consolidation - Affordable Care Act and Reimbursements - Hospitals, Senior Housing, Skilled Nursing and Acute Care

Companies include: LCA-Vision Inc. (LCAV) and many more.

In the following excerpt from the Medical Real Estate Report, the CFO of LCA-Vision discusses the outlook for his company for investors.

TWST: Please start with a company history and an overview of LCA-Vision today.

Mr. Celebrezze: LCA-Vision was a pioneer in providing laser vision-correction services, which was approved in the U.S. in the mid-1990s. We are a leader in our industry today. Over the past 17 years, we have grown with the industry and built a national business with a network of vision centers. Last year, we reported more than $100 million in revenue, and we currently have 53 vision centers in 41 markets in 26 states.

TWST: Does LCA-Vision own all of its centers, or does it lease them?

Mr. Celebrezze: We lease the majority of our vision centers. We target either medical professional or retail-type environments so that we're easily accessible to our patients. We own our corporate office building here in Cincinnati. We have about 400 employees, including about 40 surgeons, another 50 optometrists, a medical staff of technicians and nurses, a call center staff that is also in Cincinnati, and our corporate staff.

The laser vision-correction industry is highly fragmented with private practitioners doing about 60% of the LASIK procedures in America. We're the largest fixed-site operator and the only public company in our space right now. We've been growing and taking market share over the past six quarters, which shows that we're doing a lot of things right.

Our primary approach to patient acquisition is direct-to-consumer marketing; in other words, advertising to patients about the benefits of coming to LasikPlus, which is our LCA-Vision brand name and the name of our vision centers. Our ads, of course, use the LasikPlus name. We also drive patient acquisition through our affiliation with seven of the top health and vision plans, and we offer their members a discount on their procedures.

TWST: You mentioned the company is taking market share. Please tell us about how the company has been taking market share, expanding and growing, and what growth plans you have for the future.

Mr. Celebrezze: LCA-Vision currently has about 8.5% share of the national laser vision-correction market. We don't have vision centers in every city, however. Our market share in the cities we serve is approximately 20%, so we are a large provider in those markets.

Our marketing approach has been refined over the past three years. We are featuring our doctors more in our ads. We also are providing significantly more information about our differentiators from other providers, such as having the best and latest technology, financing for all patients, a lifetime satisfaction plan, and we're able to promote the benefits of our experienced surgeons. That has really helped us to educate potential patients on the difference that LasikPlus has to offer.

Our call center has improved and is much more consultative now, which is helping patients to better understand the benefits of laser vision correction. All of these improvements combined have helped us to grow our business over the past year and a half.

We are just completing our real estate expansion-strategy plan. We have not been expanding our vision center footprint over the past several years due to the recession, and in fact we shrunk our footprint in order to cut costs and improve profitability. We are now preparing for the expansion that we see coming. We believe, in the right economic climate, we could double our footprint in the U.S. in the next five to seven years.

We also are expanding our service offerings. Historically, we have only provided laser vision correction, which is a great business. The U.S. market is large with low penetration. Our patient satisfaction is in the 95% range, and our patients are thrilled with our service and their outcomes, which helps us because they tell their friends. Word of mouth is a strong driver of patients for us.

But we also recognize that laser vision correction is somewhat volatile depending upon the economy. It is a self-pay procedure and deferrable, because you can always wear glasses or contacts for another year or so. We have been working to improve the stability of our business model by expanding our service offerings into cataract and premium intraocular lens, or IOL, surgery, and also into intraocular collamer lens, or ICL, surgery. We have a team working on this, and we are now in seven markets with the cataract and ICL service offerings.

So as we expand our footprint, we will expand both the laser vision-correction and the cataract-surgery offerings. Our organization is excited about this. We think it's a positive fundamental change in our business model that will make us a stronger company moving forward.

TWST: Is that the Visium Eye Institute brand?

Mr. Celebrezze: That's correct. We are operating the cataract and premium IOL lens business under the Visium Eye Institute brand. We chose that brand because LasikPlus is more geared toward laser vision correction, or LASIK. We want our patients to know they can rely on the Visium brand for a broader range of vision care and as a source for ophthalmologic- and optometry-related information. We are finding that better-educated patients are more likely to understand the benefits of the premium technology, the premium lenses and the premium service.

Visium is intended to be more than just a service provider. We have developed a robust Web site that is being expanded to provide patients with educational material about their vision care options. And we think that the Visium platform can be used to expand beyond cataracts. We're starting with the cataract service, but it can be more of a platform for future eye care services as well. That's why we chose this brand name.

For more from this interview and many others, visit the Wall Street Transcript - a unique service for investors and industry researchers - providing fresh commentary and insight through verbatim interviews with CEOs, portfolio managers, and research analysts. This special issue is available by calling (212) 952-7433 or via The Wall Street Transcript Online.