Ventas Predicts ‘Gigantic’ Opportunities Amid ACA Uncertainty

Ventas, Inc. (NYSE: VTR) remains confident in its ability to thrive in 2017—even with all of the uncertainty currently clouding the health care industry.

In fact, despite this period of “significant macro volatility and uncertainty,” opportunities in Ventas’ markets remain “unmistakable, inexorable and gigantic,” according to company Chairman and CEO Debra Cafaro. If the Trump administration succeeds in repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), for instance, the Chicago-based health care real estate investment trust’s (REIT) expects that its medical office segment will continue to perform well—and potentially even grow.

The company reported a fourth-quarter 2016 revenue of $875.71 million on Friday, beating analysts’ expectations by $10.68 million. Ventas’ medical office building portfolio grew 1.3% in 2016, and the company’s life science and medical office building segment currently generates approximately 25% of its net operating income.

Throughout 2017, Ventas plans to invest principally in high-quality acute care hospitals and life science properties, as well as selectively develop and redevelop properties in its medical office, life science and senior housing sectors, Cafaro said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Friday. The company expects its medical office building sector will succeed, in part, due to the strategies of acute-care providers.

“The acute-care providers are going about the business of driving efficiencies, quality, improvement, M&A, et cetera, and they are some of the biggest customers obviously in the MOB business, and we have a really high-quality portfolio that’s affiliated with some of the top hospitals,” Cafaro explained. “While uncertainty generally can delay decision-making and things like that, we may see some of that this year, I do think that we are well-positioned to continue creating stable growing cash flows in our portfolio.”

Cafaro also predicted that health care and senior housing providers will continue to collaborate with each other and with managed care companies this year to control health care costs, limit readmissions, and advance the nation’s health and wellness. Still, plenty of things remain up in the air.

“Whether it’s major tax reform and its impact on real estate, modifications to the health care system, interest rates, or the unknown contours and economic impacts of potential trade barriers or immigration trends, none of us knows exactly what’s in store for our businesses,” Cafaro said.

For 2017, Ventas expects its same-store NOI growth in MOB will be between 1% and 2%.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson