Ventas: A "Recession-Proof" REIT with a Healthy Outlook

08/26/2019 5:00 am EST

Focus: REITS

John Freund

Income Specialist, Todd Shaver's Bull Market Report

Now is a good time to focus on high yield stocks with durable business models that perform well regardless of the yield curve, and are considered "recession proof," notes John Freund, income specialist and contributing editor of BullMarket Report.

Ventas (VTR), a healthcare REIT, is a defensive play with a yield of 4.4%. Healthcare is considered ‘recession proof,’ since it’s one of the last (maybe the last) expenditure people cut back on when times get tight.

Ventas owns 1,100 properties; Senior Housing represents the core of the portfolio, and that’s important because it positions Ventas to take advantage of some major demographic tailwinds facing our nation. Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day, and will continue to do so for the next 19 years.

Plus, Americans are spending a greater percentage of their income on healthcare than ever before. As life expectancy increases, this trend will continue (since end-of-life care is the most expensive). All of these are terrific revenue drivers for Ventas’s business model.

Additionally, Senior Housing starts have reached a five-year low, meaning we’re looking at an oncoming supply glut after years of excess supply. Meanwhile, the second quarter was a good one, with funds from operations (FFO) coming in at $0.97, two pennies more than consensus expectations.

That’s about a 10% decline from 2Q18’s FFO figure, however that’s due to a one-time cost: Ventas fully paying out a loan from Ardent Health. So the drop was expected, and actually expected to be much worse than it turned out.

Management also increased revenue 1% from a year ago to $950 million, and raised its 2019 FFO expectations from $3.80 to $3.83. The company also recently made headlines by issuing a 3% tender note offer to raise $650 million, which it will use to buy back its 4.25% note offer, thus reducing cost of capital.

All of this good news has sent the stock straight up over the past few months (now up 28% year-over-year). The upward ascension will continue, as high yield investors (like ourselves) look for more dependable business models like that of Ventas.

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