The Baby Boomers are at an interesting juncture of their lives: Too old to rock ‘n’ roll, too young to die.
This is a colorful way to describe the years of late career and early retirement, but it is nothing to take lightly. The aging of the Baby Boomers is the single biggest mega trend facing America. At 80 million strong, the Baby Boomers’ impact on the economy at each stage of their lives has been accurately compared to a pig passing through a python. Their integration into the workforce was a driving factor in the low-productivity / high-inflation nightmare that was the 1970s. And their “getting haircuts and real jobs” was a major driver of the productivity boom of the 1980s and 1990s.
Today, Boomers are scrambling to buy income-producing assets to fund their retirement…which is a significant contributing factor to the persistent low yields we see across the stock and bond markets.
The retirement and aging of the Boomers will create fantastic opportunities, particularly in products and services that cater to seniors. Today, I’m going to cover three solid real estate investment trusts (REITs) that are uniquely positioned to profit. To start, they own the sorts of properties that are going to be most in demand from an aging population. But secondly, with their high and growing dividends, they also stand to benefit from the continued hunt for dividend yield.
LTC Properties Inc
We’ll start with LTC Properties Inc (NYSE:LTC).
Its name and ticker symbol say it all. “LTC” is short for “long-term care,” and that is exactly what LTC provides. It invests primarily in the long-term care sector of the healthcare industry, including long-term care provider properties, skilled nursing properties, assisted living properties, independent living properties and memory care properties. LTC also invests in first-lien mortgages secured by long-term care properties.
Roughly four-fifths of LTC’s portfolio is invested in properties, and the remainder is in mortgages. Skilled nursing makes up 55% of its properties, with assisted living the next biggest portion at 37%.
LTC pays a monthly dividend with a current dividend yield of 4.8%, very competitive among medical REITs. And importantly, LTC also raises its dividend constantly — at a 8.6% annual clip over the past five years. In other words, had you bought into LTC five years ago, you’d be enjoying a yield on cost of 7.4%. Not bad!
Can we expect that kind of performance in the decade ahead? Given that 8,000 baby boomers turn 65 years old with every passing day, I would say absolutely.
Along the same lines we have one of the bluest of blue-chip REITs, Ventas, Inc. (NYSE:VTR) — one of the few REITs included in the S&P 500.
With a market cap of $23 billion, Ventas is one of the largest holdings in most REIT index funds. Due to its sheer size, VTR probably cannot grow at the rate that some of its smaller rivals can. But with its size comes stability and financial strength. And Ventas is certainly no slouch when it comes to growth, I might add. Its stock has generated total returns of about 29% per year over the past 15 years.
A little more than half of Ventas’ portfolio (by contribution to net operating income) goes to senior housing, split between 24% in “triple net” properties, 25% in domestic operating properties and 4% in international operating properties. Another 17% of the portfolio is invested in skilled nursing/post-acute care facilities; 18% is invested in medical office buildings, with 7% in hospitals and the remainder spread among loans and other properties.
So, in Ventas, you get a nice, diversified sampling of the facilities that aging Baby Boomers will be using in the decades ahead.
Ventas sports a relatively lower current dividend yield of 3.5%. But like LTC, Ventas is also a serial dividend raiser. VTR has grown its dividend at a 7.9% annual clip over the past five years and a 8.0% clip over the past ten.
It might be hard to sustain that kind of growth over the next ten years, but if anyone can do it, it would be Ventas.
Health Care REIT, Inc.
Another solid play on the aging of the Baby Boomers would be Health Care REIT, Inc. (NYSE:HCN). Like Ventas, HCN is big, with a market cap of $28 billion. It’s also one of the view REITs in the S&P 500.
From its name, you might assume that HCN was primarily a play on hospitals and doctor’s offices, but it’s not. Only about 36% of the property portfolio by value is invested in health-related properties.
About 64% of the portfolio is in senior housing, split between properties that HCN operates (38%) and those that are leased on a triple-net basis (26%). Looking at the health-related properties, medical office buildings and skilled nursing facilities make up another 16% and 14% of the portfolio, respectively, and the rest is split between hospitals and research facilities.
Here’s something I like to see: Apart from the skilled nursing facilities and hospitals, which depend heavily on Medicare and Medicaid, HCN’s tenants have very little dependence on the government. Across its portfolio, 87% of its revenues are from private pay clients. That’s a major positive in an era of slashed reimbursements and Obamacare restrictions.
HCN sports a dividend yield of 4.6% and has been a steady dividend grower for years. Over the past five years, HCN has grown its dividend at a 3.4% clip. Had you bought HCN five years ago, you’d be enjoying a yield on cost of 5.4% today.