The health-care REIT industry may not be turning its occupants' "arts and crafts" time into profitable forced manufacturing, as Ben Stiller's nursing-home manager did in Happy Gilmore. But the business is becoming more lucrative, as its major players exercise a little entrepreneurial spirit of their own.

On Monday, Health Care Property Investors (NYSE:HCP) announced that it would be acquiring Slough Estates USA for $2.9 billion. Slough's portfolio comprises 83 life science/pharmaceutical properties in California, including the campuses of the world's two largest biotech companies, Genentech (NYSE:DNA) and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN). This acquisition adds to the $9.4 billion HCP has invested in its other 730 properties, which include more than 330 senior housing facilities.

Income investors seeking stable cash dividends, but wary of the current valuations of more traditional REITs, might want to check out health-care REITs instead. HCP wields a dividend yield of 5.4%, and its stock price has appreciated 22% over the past 52 weeks. One of its chief rivals, Ventas (NYSE:VTR), has experienced similar success, with its shares up 23% over the same time period and a healthy 4.6% yield.

There's no love lost between these two behemoths. Ventas recently made a major acquisition of its own, purchasing $1.96 billion worth of assisted-living communities from Sunrise Senior Living REIT. In closing this deal, HCP emerged as Ventas's archnemesis, trying to swoop in with its own proposal for Sunrise. The matter got tied up in court for months, and HCP remains the defendant in a $100 million lawsuit brought by Ventas, claiming that HCP "tortiously interfered" in the Sunrise acquisition.

This sequence of events further demonstrates the high stakes in play in the health-care REIT industry. While Happy Gilmore might leave one a bit apprehensive about placing parents in an assisted-living community, investors should be less nervous about placing their money in this sector of the market.

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Fool contributor Billy Fisher does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.