“Now the real estate community can buckle up for the tax reform roller coaster ride,” Ventas Chairman and CEO Debra Cafaro told those participating in a second-quarter earnings call Friday, hours after the failure of a Senate attempt to pass a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“Political and policy uncertainty continues to weigh on healthcare, taxation, regulation and trade,” the real estate investment trust leader said. “Washington has been wildly unpredictable, although last night’s, or I should say this morning’s, early morning vote should restore some stability to the healthcare environment, as the majority leader of the Senate concluded that it is ‘time to move on’ from the efforts to repeal some or all of the Affordable Care Act.”
Congress has proposed major changes to the tax code, “many of which would have significant consequences for all public and private real estate companies,” Cafaro said. “Yet the debt and equity capital markets remain remarkably favorable. Therefore, our view is that we should in all events remain financially strong and liquid, maintain diversification and balance in our portfolio, continue to drive cash flow and efficiency in our enterprise, allocate capital wisely, stay nimble and opportunistic, and continue to elevate the mix and quality of our portfolio.”
Ventas reported earnings per share in the second quarter of $1.06, beating projections by $0.01. Revenue of $895.49 million was up 5.6% year-over-year and beat projections by $14.77 million.
In the seniors housing operating portfolio in the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Bob Probst said, same-store cash net operating income grew 0.4%. Same-store revenues increased almost 2%, driven by rate growth of more than 4%, which was partially offset by a year-over-year decline in occupancy of 200 basis points.
“The lower occupancy starting point entering the second quarter, due to a late and severe flu season, together with the impact of new deliveries, resulted in a widening of the occupancy gap in the quarter,” he said.
In the United States, Probst said, Ventas continues to see “very attractive growth” in high-barrier-to-entry markets such as California. New openings in the second quarter were concentrated in high construction markets, including Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and Salt Lake City, he added.
Construction as a percentage of inventory within the REIT’s trade areas improved by 20 basis points sequentially, to 5.3%, in the second quarter, “encouragingly representing the third consecutive sequential improvement in this metric,” Probst said.
Ventas is maintaining its 2017 guidance of 0% to 2% growth for its seniors housing operating portfolio same-store net operating income, he said, adding that growth will be affected by the timing of new openings, which will affect overall occupancy.
“To invest in our future growth, we committed to four class A seniors housing developments or major redevelopments in terrific locations with our leading operating partners, Atria and Sunrise,” in the second quarter, Cafaro said. These commitments totaled $188 million, according to a press release Ventas released Friday.