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Should Investors Hold Onto Healthpeak (PEAK) Stock for Now?

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Healthpeak Properties, Inc. owns diversified, high-quality and well-balanced portfolios across three core asset classes of lab, outpatient medical and continuing care retirement community (CCRC) real estate in the United States. Robust demand for lab assets and an expected rise in senior citizens’ healthcare spending are likely to serve as key growth drivers. However, competition from peers and a high interest rate environment make us apprehensive.

What’s Aiding It?

The demand for lab real estate assets has been booming on the back of the increasing life expectancy of the U.S. population and biopharma drug development growth opportunities. Also, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is likely to increase the probability of success in drug research and lower the timeline for development, allowing greater allocation of healthcare spending by healthcare research institutes in the coming years.

Against this backdrop, Healthpeak’s geographically diverse lab portfolio concentrated in the leading biotech markets of South San Francisco, Boston and San Diego is likely to experience robust demand, driving occupancy levels and leasing activity.

For 2023, we expect a year-over-year increase of 4.1% in the segment’s cash same-store net operating income (NOI).

Senior citizens constitute a major customer base of healthcare services and incur higher healthcare expenditures than the average population. It is projected that the population of this age cohort will increase in the coming years.

Therefore, Healthpeak’s CCRC portfolio, which refers to its retirement communities that include independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing units, is well-poised to benefit from the expenditure trend of senior citizens, aiding the segment’s growth. Our estimate suggests a year-over-year increase of 14.9% in the CCRC portfolio’s cash same-store NOI in 2023.

This healthcare real estate investment trust (REIT) maintains a healthy balance sheet position with ample financial flexibility. It exited the third quarter of 2023 with around $3 billion of liquidity and a net debt-to-adjusted EBITDAre of 5.2X. Also, long-term credit ratings of Baa1 (Stable) from Moody’s and BBB+ (Stable) from S&P Global as of Sep 30, 2023, render the company access to the debt market at favorable rates.

Hence, with a robust financial footing, the company seems well-positioned to capitalize on long-term growth opportunities.

Further, PEAK’s current cash flow growth is projected at 55.80% compared with 8.02% estimated for the industry.

What’s Hurting It?

Healthpeak faces competition from other industry players in the healthcare services sector and several other companies providing similar healthcare services or alternatives. Also, PEAK’s operators contend with peers for occupancy, which could limit the company’s power to raise rents. This is likely to negatively impact revenue growth, weighing on profitability.

The company’s development and redevelopment pipeline, although encouraging for long-term growth, exposes it to the risks associated with rising construction costs in an inflationary environment. Also, global supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages, including procurement delays and long lead times on certain materials, have negatively impacted the scheduled completion and/or costs of these projects.

Given the prevailing high interest rate environment, Healthpeak may find it difficult to purchase or develop real estate with borrowed funds as the costs are likely to be on the higher side. We anticipate a year-over-year rise of 16.8% in the company’s current-year interest expense.

Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have lost 10.8% in the past three months against the industry’s rise of 4.3%. 

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks from the REIT sector are EastGroup Properties (EGP - Free Report) , Stag Industrial (STAG - Free Report) and Park Hotels & Resorts (PK - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for EastGroup Properties’ 2023 FFO per share has moved marginally upward in the past month to $7.71.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Stag Industrial’s ongoing year’s FFO per share has been raised marginally over the past month to $2.28.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Park Hotels & Resorts’ current-year FFO per share has moved 2.6% northward over the past month to $1.98.

Note: Anything related to earnings presented in this write-up represents funds from operations (FFO) — a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs.

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