Chartwell Retirement Residences vs. NorthWest Health Prop Real Est Inv Trust: Which Is the Better Choice for Dividend Yield?

Nowadays, there is no shortage of companies that are slashing their dividends, making investors unhappy, and sending stock prices tumbling. Canadian Oil Sands Ltd (TSX:COS) did it, Teck Resources Ltd (TSX:TCK.B)(NYSE:TCK) did it, and Torstar Corporation (TSX:TS.B) did it, and that’s just a few in a long list of companies.

Canadian Oil Sands cut its quarterly dividend from $0.35 to $0.05, a drop of more than 85%, due to weak crude oil prices. Teck Resources cut its semi-annual dividend to $0.15 recently from $0.45, a cut of more than 65%, due to low coal and copper prices that have depressed cash flows. And lastly, Torstar cut its dividend in half as print and ad revenue continues to slide.

Now let’s take a look at two companies with strong dividend yields that are not in a cyclical commodity business, as Canadian Oil Sands and Teck are, and that are not in an industry that is facing a secular decline, as Torstar is.

Chartwell Retirement Residences (TSX:CSH.UN)

On the contrary, Chartwell benefits from one of the strongest secular trends that is driving the market today. That is the aging population. The dividend yield currently stands at 4.2%, which is down slightly due to capital appreciation of the stock in the last 12 months. The stock’s 12 month return is 11%.

Occupancy rates are still increasing, and in the latest quarter (third quarter 2015), came in at 92%. This compares to 90.4% in the same period last year. The payout ratio (distributions as a percentage of funds from operations) was a healthy 74.3% in the third quarter, and the balance sheet continues to strengthen.

NorthWest Health Prop Real Est Inv Trust (TSX:NWH.UN)

Similar to Chartwell, Northwest Health also benefits from the aging population. NorthWest Health is Canada’s largest non-government owner and manager of medical office buildings and healthcare real estate.

But, the company’s risk profile is higher than Chartwell’s, and that would explain the current dividend yield of 9.48%. While the payout ratio of 99.8% is concerning, and the balance sheet will become more levered, the business is a relatively stable one, and therefore the dividend should likely be maintained.

The company recently acquired Northwest International Healthcare Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, which represents a new international strategy for the company. While there is a higher degree of risk related to this new strategy, the company gets increased scale, diversification, and stronger growth opportunities because of it.

In summary, investors of these two dividend-paying stocks will benefit from the aging population. However, these stocks each have a different risk/reward trade off that investors must consider. Chartwell is the safer bet, but for investors who are willing to take on a little more risk, Northwest Health’s almost 9.5% dividend yield  is an attractive feature.

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Fool contributor Karen Thomas has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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