With nearly 78.2 million baby boomers driving our economy and 330 of them turning 60 each hour, there's clearly a transition on the horizon with fiscal implications all around. Soon, a generation of parents will become a generation of geriatrics, and this means different things for different companies. These demographic trends will be providing a lot of great investment opportunities for younger generations -- the Xs, the Ys, and any other nicknames they're giving generations nowadays. So we've sought out the insights of two twentysomething analysts (Nick, 22, and Katrina, 23) here at the Fool. Their conversation follows:
Nick: Wow, so my parents are getting up there. They're now well into retirement, and they're talking to me about fiscal discipline, saving for the golden years, playing with grandkids, and finding a nice sunny spot to stake their claim. This is all so new for me.
Katrina : It's no different in my family, with talk about maxing out contributions to Roth IRAs and 401(k)s for retirement -- the benefits from which are still a ways off for me, but not for them. In the near future, they're going to have to cash in on a life's worth of savings. Well, we know it's been coming for a while, and we know that the economy is in for a change. So having a Foolish mindset, why not cash in on their aging needs?
Nick: Let's be honest. Our parents' generation is going to be chowing down on medicines like they're candy. With the 50+ crowd consuming about 74% of prescription drugs, that makes the pharmaceutical business a $75 billion market for boomers alone. There's no shortage of pharmaceuticals ready to meet their needs, but what we need to find is a company prepared to cash in on this boon.
Katrina: Of course, there are a ton of pharmas. Every time I turn on the TV, there's a commercial for some sort of new medicine for whatever ails you. Do you think there's one company that stands out to you?
Nick: Yeah, there's no doubt that there's huge competition in this industry, but our International Report recommendation, Sanofi-Aventis
Katrina: What do you mean, "directly marketed?"
Nick: Well, currently the company has 127 products under development, 56 of which are in the late stages of clinical development. This is especially important because a lot of those drugs are targeted to an aging population. Some of their future stars include drugs targeting heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. Even if they hit a home run with only one of these drugs, it will be devoured by an 80 million-strong demographic in this country alone. Add this to a more than $5 billion R&D budget (the third largest in the pharma industry), and the chances are that they'll strike gold. Plus, financially the company has a great fitness report. While Sanofi-Aventis is rather highly leveraged, this isn't unusual for a company with such a strong R&D backdrop. After all, developing new drugs is an expensive process. Furthermore, the company sports strong growth in revenues, an annualized rate of 35% per year in the last five years, impressive growth in profit margins, and a healthy yield of 1.8%. Overall, I'd say that Sanofi offers an enviable product pipeline, a well-balanced financial statement, and above-average growth prospects, even within this saturated industry!
Katrina: Yeah, I like the idea of investing in a pharmaceutical company that's clearly looking to the future, but I'm also interested in companies that are making innovative medical advances. One such company, Rule Breakers pick SonoSite
Nick: That's impressive, but ultrasounds are for expecting mothers, and I don't think I'll be getting a little brother anytime soon.
Katrina: Ultrasounds aren't only for expectant mothers. Now that SonoSite has created a series of handheld devices all weighing under 10 pounds, the uses for these HCUs have grown exponentially. Whether it's to locate a tumor, assist in surgery, gain visual insight to vital organs, or countless other situations, these portable devices are making it possible. A recent study presented at the World Congress of Cardiology concluded that HCUs were "the ideal screening tool" for physical examinations. Dr. Postley of the New York Physicians Group went on to say, "If ultrasound was more commonly used in the physical exam, I believe it could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year." But the huge conclusion of the study was that HCUs, when used in vascular screening in conjunction with traditional risk analysis, could identify heart disease risk (the leading cause of death in America) with much greater precision, especially among women. This alone could dramatically alter the use of ultrasounds in medical practice.
Nick: Point taken, but how's the company positioned financially for future investors like us?
Katrina: The company has an impressive track record, with a compounded annual growth rate of 35.7% over the past five years (according to Capital IQ). In this past quarter, revenues grew 18% from equally impressive growth in the U.S. (19%) and internationally (17%). Also, with 70% of SonoSite's operating expenses devoted to sales and marketing, I believe that the company is hoping to expand their presence in more hospitals and private practices. They currently have more than 25,000 systems installed worldwide, with half of their sales from international customers. I think we have two great companies here that could provide some top-notch investment opportunities.
Nick: But, hey, if the medical world isn't ideal, there are plenty of alternative opportunities out there, like golf club manufacturers, heavy yarn and knitting industries, and rocking chair furniture makers.
Katrina: And don't forget Bingo game manufacturers and the baked-goods industry.
Nick: Truth be told, there are plenty of ways to make money off the companies that make the products our parents and other baby boomers will need in their golden years. Of course, we could just keep asking them directly for the money, like we've been doing all these years. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
Whether you're a baby boomer approaching retirement age, or a member of Generations X or Y with quite a few years to go, our latest special report will shed some light on innovative health-care and biotech companies that are paving the way to golden returns for your golden years. The Motley Fool's top analysts bring you premium stock picks in The Big Boom: Explosive Opportunities in Biotech and Health Stocks.
The combined ages of Fool contributors Katrina Chan and Nick Kapur are less than that of most baby boomers, but they remain convinced that they're qualified to speak on such issues. Call it the hubris of youth. They also trust that all Foolish baby boomers have found this article in good humor. Neither writer owns shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a golden disclosure policy.