Forget Carbon, Here's 1 Company Bulking Up For an Entirely Different Trend

Carbon is the issue of the day, but don't forget about the crush of Baby Boomers coming our way—Ventas is ready!

Jun 16, 2014 at 7:00AM

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are in the news today, and they should be. However, demographics is destiny, or so the saying goes, and we're about to be crushed by a wave of aging Baby Boomers. Ventas (NYSE:VTR) is getting ready.

SolarCity for Carbon, Ventas for Booming
The EPA just announced plans to cut domestic carbon dioxide emissions by 30%. That's going to cause notable changes in the energy industry, which accounts for roughly 40% of domestic CO2 emissions. Companies that can produce electricity without producing this greenhouse gas should benefit. SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY), which installs solar power cells on residential and business rooftops, is just such a company.

Although carbon is the news maker today, not too long ago it was the aging of the baby boomers. While this issue has fallen from the headlines, it hasn't gone away. Ventas is among the largest players in the senior housing niche. It owns nearly 1,500 properties, roughly 75% of which are senior housing. Another 20% or so are hospitals and medical office buildings—where the aging go to get treated. It's clearly ready to help the Baby Boomers age gracefully.

(Source: BrokenSphere, via Wikimedia Commons)

Growth is in the cards, at a cost
SolarCity plans to have over one gigawatt of solar installed by the end of 2014. That puts it in a good position to take on the big-picture carbon problem. The only issue with SolarCity is that it's spending heavily to build out its platform and, thus, is bleeding red ink.

SolarCity has to act fast, however, because the government is currently subsidizing the solar industry. That means SolarCity has a limited time to build scale before these subsidies go away. In fact, Arizona shows how important scale is. Despite a pullback in solar subsidies, and spending, in the state, SolarCity's scale has left it with booking that have, "...never been higher." Smaller operators, meanwhile, have struggled.

Growth and dividends, how exciting!
Ventas already has notable scale since it is one of country's three largest health care landlords. But, it just agreed to acquire American Realty Capital Healthcare Trust (NASDAQ:HCT) and 29 senior housing facilities in Canada. This pair of deals will cost roughly $3.5 billion and expand Ventas' portfolio by about 170 properties, or roughly 10%. And the best part is that Ventas is growing quickly and making money for its shareholders.

(Source: Klearchos, via Wikimedia Commons)

Ventas sports a yield of roughly 4.3%. SolarCity is paying nothing. Further, Ventas has increased its dividend in nine of the last 10 years. The only break in that was between 2008 and 2009, when the disbursement stayed at $2.05 a share annually. Today Ventas' dividend is $2.90 a share.

But what about the changing face of health care?
The one big knock against owning health care assets like those Ventas controls is that the government is changing the third-party payment rules (insurance) that the industry lives under. However, Ventas should be well insulated from any changes because 75% of its income comes from private payers. In other words, its customers pay it directly.

The other big question you might have is about the size of the health care opportunity if carbon has pushed it out of the headlines. Never fear, it's big! Ventas explains that between 2015 and 2060, the number of people between the age of 75 and 84 is expected to increase 120%. The number of people 85 and older will increase by nearly 190%. Older people are living longer and healthier lives, but there's going to be a lot of them and they'll need the extra care, even if it's only modest assistance, that Ventas can provide.

SolarCity for the future, Ventas for the now
SolarCity is helping to address an important issue, but so is Ventas. And while carbon dioxide is all over the news today, the Baby Boomer issue hasn't suddenly gone away because it's out of the headlines. And we'll have to start dealing with aging Baby Boomers long before we have to deal with ocean levels rising. If you are looking to ride a big-picture trend, and make money doing it, Ventas should be on your short list.

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Reuben Brewer has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends SolarCity. The Motley Fool owns shares of SolarCity. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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