Remember corporate news? The last few weeks haven't given us a lot of non-earnings headlines or the space to weigh them. But now the calendar once again provides that space . . . and the headlines show that BMR companies are still innovating between quarterly conference calls.
Amazon (AMZN: $1,772, down 1% yesterday) is moving forward with its new chain of supermarkets with a pilot store in an upscale part of Los Angeles. The plan leaked via a "help wanted" ad that seems to be looking for only a few employees to staff what would ordinarily be a massive operation. Reading between the lines, we suspect that this is going to be a largely cashier-free and on-demand concept where shoppers either order online or fill electronic "carts" and have their groceries brought to them. If so, they'll pay on the app.
Delivery and other nuances may also be part of the mix here. All we know for sure is that this isn't going to be a Whole Foods. This is something new. Whether it's the future of food or not, it takes the Amazon platform forward and will keep competitors on the defensive. We like that.
AstraZeneca (AZN: $47, down 1%) has proved that its once-a-month injection helps more than half of all lupus patients cut back on steroids. We've been waiting for these results since August and it's good to see after the company's previous lupus therapy fizzled at this stage a year ago. This autoimmune disorder is both widespread (5 million people have it) and a tough clinical target to crack . . . only one other drug has been approved here in the last six decades and it's a decade old. There's at least $500 million a year to be captured here. Again, it's good news. Management will tell us more about it today.
And never mind questions around some corners of the Medical REIT industry. Welltower (WELL: $83, flat) is paying $787 million to buy 29 medical office buildings as well as another $885 million for various outpatient clinics. This brings the company's acquisitions this year to $3.5 billion and adds 8 million square feet to the portfolio, roughly expanding the rental base by 35%. The properties are relatively new and concentrated in the Northeast. If you were looking for growth in the Real Estate portfolio, this is going to be one of the big drivers.
And the stock is on sale too. The stock was last at this level at the end of July, having risen to the low 90s as late as October 21st. Why it has fallen to the current level is beyond us. At a market cap of $34 billion, owning over 1700 healthcare properties, and paying a dividend of 4.2%, we can't think of a stronger real estate company out there.