Shareholders in Income Investor selection Health Care REIT (NYSE:HCN) are probably there for the dividend. But if I had to guess, I'd say that most of them probably expect more funds from operations (FFO) growth than the company showed this quarter.

For its third quarter, Health Care REIT reported FFO per diluted share of $0.73, versus $0.77 last year. At the business level, things aren't as bad as they seem. Revenues increased 16.7%, and despite higher debt levels and interest expense, FFO increased 9.3%. But as shareholders, we look at the per-share results, and because of shares issued in the past year to fund expansion and debt payments, FFO per share actually declined slightly.

Since the stock price has hardly budged following yesterday's earnings announcement, it seems that investors are looking toward Health Care REIT's future -- for which the company appears well-positioned. Health Care REIT has invested ahead of time for the baby boomers' arrival in nursing care. In addition, the acquisition of WindroseMedical Properties Trust (NYSE:WRS) will give the company exposure to the medical office space. Windrose provides greater diversification from both a property and a tenant perspective, and reduces the company's overall dependence on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

The original arguments for a long-term investment in Health Care REIT were its cleaned-up balance sheet and ideal positioning to capitalize on the coming long-term care and nursing needs of baby boomers. Companies such as Ventas (NYSE:VTR), Health Care Property Investors (NYSE:HCP), and Senior Housing Properties Trust (NYSE:SNH) will pursue the same customers in some markets, but the addition of Windrose puts a new twist on Health Care REIT.

I'd argue that the growth prospects and the diversification from Windrose are positives, but the acquisition also means that the company must manage yet another property type. Still, the price Health Care REIT is paying for Windrose, and the performance I've seen in Washington REIT's (NYSE:WRE) medical-office portfolio, makes me cautiously optimistic that the per-share growth potential at Health Care REIT will pick up in the next few years.

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At the time of publication, Nathan Parmelee owned shares in Health Care REIT but had no interest in any of the other companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.