For the second time in five months, Manor Care Inc. has approved a three-for-two split of its common shares to encourage wider distribution of the stock, James H. Rempe, senior vice president, said yesterday.

The Silver Spring-based company tries to maintain a cost per share of about $20, and the split should lower Manor Care stock to that range, Rempe said. Manor Care closed yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange at 31 3/8, up 1 1/4, on a volume of 12,000 shares.

Manor Care, the second-largest nursing home company in the United States, runs 101 nursing facilities. Its Quality Inns subsidiary operates 452 hotels and resorts.

The first three-for-two split was declared in February.

Trading of Manor Care stock rose 20 percent this year, compared with a jump of 40 percent for the nursing home industry, according to Jules Marx, an analyst for Laidlaw Adams & Peck Inc.

Manor Care's board of directors will recommend that stockholders approve a doubling of authorized common shares from 20 million to 40 million shares at the annual meeting in September, Chairman Stewart Bainum said. With its second split, Manor Care shares will rise from 11.8 to 17 million, Marx said.