One of the painful but crucial lessons that the re-escalating trade war has taught us is that anything can happen. Just a few weeks ago, a resolution between the U.S. and China appeared an inevitability. Now, even the idea of getting together for talks is questionable. That said, not all stocks to buy are vulnerable to unexpected sentiment shifts.
If you’re seeking a market segment that will likely produce strong gains over the next decade, it’s time to look at assisted-living stocks. Elderly care operates on two core principles. First, it’s our moral and ethical obligation to help those that cannot help themselves. Second, aging happens to everyone. Therefore, these specialized-care facilities will essentially exist forever.
Other fundamental factors support the case for assisted-living stocks to buy. The biggest tailwind is the sheer size of the baby boomer demographic. Between 1946 and 1964, the U.S. experienced 76 million births. By 2012, 11 million of this generation had died, but that still leaves 65 million survivors. That’s a lot of folks that will seek care during their golden years.
Moreover, advancing technologies in medicine and nutrition have noticeably increased our ability to extend our life. True, life expectancy is falling in this country. However, much of that can be attributed to the opioid crisis, which largely affects younger Americans. Overall, though, the point stands: healthcare innovations have had a net positive impact on baby boomers, which in turn affects assisted-living stocks to buy.
Best of all, the demand exists irrespective of economic or market conditions. It’s an area that politically, Washington power-brokers cannot simply gloss over. Unlike discretionary sectors, specialized care levers a very human face. With that, here are seven assisted-living stocks to buy:
One of the attributes that attracted me to Welltower (NYSE:WELL) was that it’s among Fortune’s most admired companies of 2019. From a PR perspective, that’s a huge story. As you probably know, assisted-living stocks don’t enjoy the greatest of reputations due to scandalous stories of senior abuse.
But as an investor, WELL stock provides many other substantive points to chew on. Primarily, shares have performed admirably this year, gaining over 18% since the January opener. Not only that, WELL recovered quickly from last year’s broader market selloff. It ended 2018 with a return of 15%, whereas many other companies floundered.
If that doesn’t convince you to put WELL among your list of stocks to buy, consider its dividend. With a 4.4% yield, this can provide comfortable support should the markets experience a downturn.
Ensign Group (ENSG)
If you want pure exposure to assisted-living stocks to buy, take a good look at Ensign Group (NASDAQ:ENSG). Headquartered in Mission Viejo, California, ENSG stock is levered toward a robust local economy. Moreover, it offers comprehensive solutions for the elderly, including in-house therapy and hospice care.
As with Welltower, ENSG stock exhibits tremendous resilience, even in the face of troubling market conditions. It absorbed a sharp blow during the broader selloff in late 2018. However, shares quickly bounced back. By the second half of February, ENSG had recovered all of its prior losses and then some.
That said, Ensign Group’s equity is more representative of growth names than say dividend stocks to buy. For instance, ENSG is up 49% year-to-date, but only offers a miniscule 0.33% yield. Still, if you want to bet on extremely favorable demographics, Ensign is a great idea.
Omega Healthcare Investors (OHI)
Another strong name among assisted-living stocks to buy is Omega Healthcare Investors (NYSE:OHI). After working through some operational issues, management started this year off on an aggressive footing. In the first quarter, Omega bought out MedEquities Realty Trust (NYSE:MRT), which should boost the operational profile of OHI stock.
However, you wouldn’t guess that Omega was running on less than 100% of its cylinders by looking at its chart. On a year-to-date basis, OHI stock is up slightly over 15%. Last year, shares returned 40%. As you might imagine, the company hardly blinked during the recent downturn.
I expect more of the same should the economy go sour due to a prolonged U.S.-China trade war. Recent quarterly revenues suggest that management is likely to overcome miscues from the past. Also, OHI stock pays out a very generous 7% dividend yield, which should attract shelter-seeking investors.
A key advantage in acquiring assisted-living stocks to buy is their inverse correlation to current market conditions. For instance, while the benchmark S&P 500 index is down roughly 2% this month, senior-care specialist HCP (NYSE:HCP) has gained almost 7%.
It was the same story last year. In the final quarter of 2018, the S&P 500 dropped 10%. On the other hand, HCP stock shot up just under 10% over the same time frame.
I expect a similar dynamic if the markets slow down due to trade-war related complications. As with the other organizations in this segment, HCP stock will enjoy consistent, if not growing demand. Furthermore, HCP levers wider coverage of the healthcare sector, including life science, hospital and medical-office properties.
Finally, HCP pays out a generous 4.7% dividend. Typically, income-generating companies fare better than pure growth names during a bear market. That’s one more reason to put HCP in your list of stocks to buy!
National HealthCare (NHC)
Admittedly, some of the top names among assisted-living stocks represent speculation toward a corporate turnaround. What I like about National HealthCare (AMEX:NHC), though, is their “steady as she goes” financials. For instance, over the past four years, revenue for NHC stock has grown consecutively. This trend continued up to its most recent first quarter of 2019 earnings report.
Granted, the growth rate isn’t anything to write home about, which is essentially low single digits. But with the massive demographic tailwind that NHC stock benefits from, I’m not sure if they need crazy growth. Approximately 10,000 baby boomers retire each day, which will eventually translate to a robust clientele.
Plus, National HealthCare pays out a 2.6% dividend yield. While the payout isn’t as attractive as some of the other stocks to buy that I mentioned, the company’s upwardly trekking sales is a significant positive.
Capital Senior Living (CSU)
While assisted-living stocks generally have a boring reputation — how many of you got really jazzed about this segment? — not all sector players fit that description. If you’re the type to mix your gambling with elderly care, Capital Senior Living (NYSE:CSU) may be right for you.
However, I don’t want to mislead you in any way: CSU stock is one of the riskiest investments, both in assisted living and the broader markets. Last year was particularly awful for the organization, which suffered from slowing revenues and widening net-income losses. This dynamic was unhelpful to its overbearing long-term debt, to say the least.
Still, some hope exists for a turnaround. Revenue in Q1 was in line with the year-ago haul, suggesting that the sales bleed has stopped. Also, CSU stock has stabilized since hitting rock-bottom in March. It’s super-risky, but that’s sort of the point.
Brookdale Senior Living (BKD)
Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE:BKD) is a contradiction. On one hand, it levers the fundamentals that should make BKD stock a top player in the markets. Despite many troubled years, Brookdale is still the nation’s top senior-housing owner and operator.
But on the other hand, we’ve got to talk about those troubles. Since 2016, Brookdale’s annual revenue has declined consecutively. Even worse, its Q1 2019 sales haul of $1 billion slipped more than 12% year-over-year. It has a sizable debt load and its net-income losses have widened considerably over the years.
As a result, BKD stock has fallen into the dumps. But if you’re a diehard contrarian, Brookdale may have something for you. Again, it’s the top senior-housing operator in America. When you factor in the baby boomer demographic wave, BKD might make some big surprises.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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