Six Reasons Why We Like National Health Investors



We’d like to let you know about National Health Investors, a company we’ve identified as one of the most consistent dividend-paying REITs. It doesn’t yet enjoy the longevity of either HCP, Welltower (HCN), or Universal Health Realty (UHT) in terms of the longest paying dividend stocks in the healthcare REIT sector, but so far it has accumulated a respectable dividend history. By distributing similar or growing dividends for the past 14 years, National has already placed itself in this elite club of dividend-paying REITs.

Those investing, in general, seem to like the healthcare sector because of its defensive nature–National Health is no exception in this group of REITs. We are not currently in a recession even though the markets have been volatile; however, some experts have argued that we are headed for one. Regardless of the abundant number of opinions floating around, investor fears’ could be reduced if their investments were in stocks that do not fully ride the market’s roller coaster. With a 3-year beta of 0.5 (a move, on average, half of what the SP500 index moves), National Health is among those stocks that can provide some peace of mind.

So what do we like about National Health Investors? We find six reasons why this is. First, over the past five years, the dividend rate has grown at a CAGR of 8%. In fact, the company just increased its dividend rate following its last years’ distribution routine.


The second reason is that for over the past five years, the funds from operations (FFO) per share have been at a CAGR of 11%. A strong FFO-per-share growth likely translates into a strong dividend rate growth, which allows maintenance of a reasonable payout ratio in the range of 80%. Just last quarter, National’s AFFO payout ratio was 83%.


Another reason we like National is that its portfolio is diversified in terms of property type. It is a great option for those who don’t want to be too dependent on Medicaid and Medicare revenues, from which the company has moved away since 2009. The company basically splits its portfolio into 35% medical and 62% senior living, but further clarification is needed. The properties encompass 116 senior housing properties (both assisted and independent living), 68 skilled nursing facilities (SNF), 3 hospitals, and 2 medical office buildings.


The fourth reason we like National is that although the company has not been rated by a major credit rating agency, it appears to have a conservative debt profile. Less than one-third of its capital structure is composed of debt. Its net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio is about 4.2x, more stringent than the typical investment-grade REIT ratio. For instance, Welltower, rated BBB by S&P, has an equivalent ratio of 5.6x.


Fifth, we like that National’s lease portfolio has been holding up well. EBITDARM coverage, which is relevant for the healthcare sector, is a measure of a property’s ability to generate sufficient cash flows. This allows the operator/borrower to pay rent and meet other obligations, assuming that management fees are not being paid. National’s EBITDARM varies depending on the type of property, but the full portfolio coverage is 2x, which is reasonably good.


And, finally, there are no major lease expirations in the short, midterm. The number of expirations will only pick up in 2025.


Source: National Health Investors Inc.(NYSE:NHI), Universal Health Realty Income(NYSE:UHT), Welltower Inc.(NYSE:HCN), HCP, Inc.(NYSE:HCP), Yahoo!Finance, Fast Graphs.

Disclaimer: This newsletter is not engaged in rendering tax, accounting, or other professional advice through this publication. No statement in this issue is to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or other investment. Please do your own due diligence before making any investment decision. Some information presented in this publication has been obtained from third-party sources considered to be reliable. Sources are not required to make representations as to the accuracy of the information, however, and consequently the publisher cannot guarantee accuracy.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any shares mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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