Investment trends are shifting into the healthcare sector. Large national pharmacy brands are becoming solid investments for various reasons. In this article, we will explore what the investment climate looks like for pharmacy franchise investors, and what they can expect to receive for their efforts.
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The pharmaceutical industry has been dominated for several decades by Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. The historic company has recently shifted its corporate strategy where the stores that operate under the Wallgreens umbrella are slowly moving away from their current configuration to a more healthcare-focused niche. The move is risky when you factor in how many other healthcare brands currently exist in the pharmacy landscape. It means that to stand out, the Walgreens concept has to be different than what is already available. Walgreens enters into this phase with a history of consistent profitability and brand awareness that could lead the way in today’s uncertain healthcare environment.
Considering that the price multiples are very low for Walgreens, a calculated fair value through discounted cash flow comes out at 78.42. That’s much higher than the current $43. So what does this mean for the century-old company? For starters, based on the age of the company, it is reasonable to expect growth rates to be low. Statistics from Walgreens show that between 2012 and 2021, revenues increased by 6.62 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate). Conversely, operating income increased marginally over the same period at 2.02 percent CAGR. Net income was close throughout those years. Walgreens is profitable, for sure. But not by a whole lot. However, slow and steady growth makes this franchise a good investment.
Walgreens sold its wholesale pharmacy business, Alliance Healthcare, in 2021. It was purchased by AmerisourceBergen for $6.5 billion. The sale was important to the future of Walgreens for the following reasons:
Because Walgreens carries such a debt load, the sale of Alliance Healthcare helped the company to reduce it. Although only about half of the sale price went to debts, it cut the figure down to about $55 billion.
The sale of Alliance Healthcare permitted Walgreens to make a $5.2 billion investment in VillageMD. The company had 30 percent ownership already and the new investment pushed the total to 63 percent.
Another investment in healthcare was possible with the sale of Alliance Healthcare. Walgreens spent $330 million to acquire a majority share of CareCentrix. CareCentrix has various home care solutions that fit into the new Walgreens model.
A dividend is either cash or stock issued to stockholders out of company profits. This is one of the things that makes certain investments more attractive than others. Walgreens has a solid dividend program which currently has a yield of 4.40 percent. Although the company’s cash flow has been erratic over the past decade, a high-yield dividend payment is still possible. It also means that the dividend yield may increase in future years. Learn more about Walgreens property for sale by visiting Pharma Property Group.
There are many benefits to investing in pharmacy property. The three main reasons include lease length, lease structure, and location.
Typically, pharmacy properties are good investments as they have long-term leases. They generally run between 20 and 25 years. Not only does this ensure long-term benefits to the investor, but it also provides a layer of protection. The risk of a pharmacy defaulting on rent and abandoning the site is greatly reduced with a long-term lease.
By utilizing the single tenant net lease (STNL) structure, all of the traditional landlord-related expenses become the responsibility of the franchise investor. This includes such things as insurance, repairs and maintenance, property taxes, utilities, build-outs, etc. This results in greater returns to the investor making this a worthwhile addition to an investment portfolio.
Pharmacy properties are usually carefully selected. They are on busy streets, street corners, ends of shopping malls, and centers of downtown cores. Any high-traffic location is the perfect space for a pharmacy property. They tend to be where they can be accessed easily which includes alongside existing or proposed mass transit routes.
There are two methods used to determine if Walgreens is undervalued at the time and what it is worth. These methods are multiples and discounted cash flow. Here is a closer look at how these methods are applied to this situation.
Five-year historic average values of both Walgreens and the healthcare industry are the reference points in this method. Walgreens has spent a considerable amount of cash in recent years adding to its debt but doing so to increase revenues in the future. It is the classic “spend money to make money” model that results in low growth numbers on paper although the move will keep the company relevant well into the future. Essentially, this current activity of increasing debt has given Walgreens an overall undervaluation. This makes it an attractive investment opportunity.
By discounting future cash flows, it is easier to determine a fair value for Walgreens. By using a cost of equity of 11.25 percent, an after-tax cost of debt of 6.15 percent, a growth rate of 5 percent, and a capital structure of 60 percent debt to 40 percent equity, the fair value of Walgreens comes out at $78.42. This is higher than the current share price of $43. Factoring in a high margin of safety at 30 percent, the company is still under value by 28 percent.
If you are considering tapping into the pharmacy property trend, you can’t go wrong with a Walgreens franchise. Even with the company planning to close about 900 of its locations, the shift in focus to a more health care service-based concept makes this company a very attractive investment. The company is currently undervalued and offers many benefits to investors. For a long-term, low-maintenance opportunity that leads the current real estate trend, a Walgreens franchise is a safe bet.
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