There is no way to mince words. When it comes to valuation, Ventas is a shadow of its former self. After being worth more than $20 billion, its market cap has dropped to just $7.8 billion. This compares with Welltower ($15.8 billion) and Healthpeak Properties ($11.8 billion). So much for the “Big Three” REITs. This is new territory for Ventas and its CEO, Debbie Cafaro. But who knows, maybe the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup this year, if there is one.
Ventas, like Brookdale Senior Living, has withdrawn its 2020 earnings guidance. It stated that tours and move-ins at its operators are beginning to slow, even though the first two months of the year met previous expectations. What a difference a few weeks can make.
And, also like Brookdale, Ventas has drawn down its revolving credit facility as a precaution. The amount, however, is unprecedented – a word you must be getting tired of. They took down $2.75 billion of their $3.0 billion revolver. That is billion. That is a lot of excess cash to get ready for Armageddon. While it would be easy to say they have a big deal lined up, that was not the message.
Yesterday, Ventas’s shares plunged another 11.7% on a day that the market went up by 5% to 6%. Just like Brookdale did. And it wasn’t because the 10-year yield increased by 27 basis points on the day, to a whopping 0.997%. Healthcare REITs stopped trading like bonds a while ago. This one is trading more like an operator, and one that is in trouble. And some of its operators will be seeing more trouble in the coming weeks, with or without Justin Hutchens. Oh boy.