It's no secret that the largest segment of the American population consists of the baby-boomer generation. This group has been widely celebrated for their contributions to society, as well as for solidifying the American dream. However, many fear the financial fallout that may ensue as a result of pressure on government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare as more and more members of this class begin to retire. Regardless of those potential issues, the consequences of this group growing older aren't all bad, as there are industries that stand to profit. The following are three industries that I expect to prosper the most as baby boomers grow older, as well as some of my favorite stocks in each industry.
Assisted Living & Nursing Homes
The assisted living and nursing home industry is probably my favorite play on an aging population, for obvious reasons. As the huge baby boomer generation continues to grow older, more and more people are going to need these types of services in the coming years than in the past. This equates to not only more consistently filled rooms, but also the expansion of properties, ultimately generating higher profits .
These stocks typically classify as REITs, and therefore pay considerable dividends, which makes holding these securities even more attractive. Some of my favorite names in this space include Omega Healthcare Investors Inc. (NYSE:OHI) which is currently yielding just under 7%, Senior Housing Properties Trust (NYSE:SNH) which offers around a 6.5% yield, and HCP Inc. (NYSE:HCP), 4.5%. All three of these stocks have seen considerable run-ups in the 10-15% range over the last couple of months, so you may want to wait for a slight pullback before jumping in. Another option is starting your position on an ex-dividend date in order to earn yourself a small discount, although even at current levels, these stocks should still have room to run.
It's a well-known fact that as people age, they typically need more medication to manage their increasing ailments, and that bodes well for drug manufacturers as the massive baby boomer generation continues to grow older. GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) has trended up recently, making it about halfway to its 52 week high relative to where it started two months ago, but still has not seen the price appreciation over the past year that many of the other major manufacturers like Bristol-Myers (NYSE:BMY), Merck (NYSE:MRK), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) have. GSK currently carries a P/E ratio of 14.37 compared to an industry average of 18.29, which makes the stock a bargain and my top choice among this group. I'm also a big fan of the generic makers Teva Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:TEVA) and Mylan Inc (NASDAQ:MYL), as thrifty retirees look to cut costs wherever possible, although Teva is a much better value play as it's been hampered recently by competition worries regarding one of its key drugs. Teva currently trades at about 15 times earnings, while Mylan is close to 20 times their earnings. The industry average comes in at just over 17.
As our population ages, someone will need to help distribute the additional medication needed to support this growing segment of our country, and luckily CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS), Walgreen (NYSE:WAG) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) are all here to help. Online and mail order transactions are the way of the future, and each of these companies will give you access to that market. Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) is also worth a look as they are the largest mail order pharmacy in the United States, not to mention the exposure they will give you to other areas of the healthcare industry.
These are a few of the industries that should see considerable growth over the next few months and years as the baby boomer generation continues to age. Of course these are not the only segments that can and will profit, so I encourage you to think about and research other industries and companies that could benefit from an aging population.
Additional disclosure: My company is engaged in business concerning PFE.