Cash in on the Golden Age with these three stocks

Each week, a professional investor tells MoneyWeek where she’d put her money now. This week: Meret Gaugler, equities analyst, Lombard Odier Investment Managers.

Compared with previous generations, people retiring today can and do afford themselves more luxuries. In Britain, there are nearly two million people over the age of 60 with £1m in total wealth, including their property.

The image of a pensioner struggling to pay the heating bill may be a stereotype that’s hard to shift, but on average, the over-65s in the UK are now spending more than ever on restaurants, travel and entertainment.

Indeed, new pensioners are more likely than those in their 20s and 30s to be eating out, buying designer glasses and going on expensive holidays.

The ‘baby boomer’ generation, born in the two decades after 1945, have lived through decades of strong market returns and surging property prices, and can now fall back on what are often generous pensions.

That’s in sharp contrast to the generation just starting their working lives, whose disposable income is in decline for the first time in almost a century as they pay off student loans, worry about unemployment or struggle to pay the mortgage.

As investors, we should see the ageing population as an opportunity. That’s how we approach stock picking in the ‘Golden Age’ strategy.

The over-60s represent an expanding, cash-rich group of consumers, who are less sensitive to the economic environment than the wider population. For these reasons, businesses serving older people should grow faster and more sustainably than the rest of the economy.

Investors who want exposure to the trend of an ageing demographic should therefore think beyond just the healthcare sector. As we stay healthier for longer, we also end up being more active, doing things that involve spending money.

Cruise lines, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, cosmetics and luxury goods are examples of areas that are benefiting. It might not be immediately obvious how Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) fits in with the ageing demographic theme. Yet despite its hell-raising reputation, the average age of its customers is around 50.

If you look more closely at some of its bikes, you’ll come across telltale details such as heated saddles and handle bars, as well as a reverse gear for riders who are trying to avoid heavy lifting.

Last year, the company celebrated the 110th anniversary of the very first Harley, and we expect the company’s sales to accelerate later this year as it introduces a range of new bikes.

British wealth manager St James’s Place (LSE: STJ) is one of our plays on the fact that many older people elect actively to supplement their pensions with an additional revenue stream by investing part of their savings.

The group offers face-to-face investment advice to individuals with between £50,000 and £5m at their disposal, which is primarily the over-50s. The company attracted £4.3bn of funds during 2013 and is likely to emerge as one of the winners of Britain’s recent pensions overhaul.

Our final suggestion is Danish hearing-aid manufacturer GN Store Nord (Copenhagen: GN). Unfortunately, getting older is not just about having more time to spend on hobbies or with the grandchildren. At some point, you may need a little assistance to hear them without straining.

Hearing aids have enjoyed relatively stable demand over the years even though government reimbursement is scant in many countries, making them one of the luxuries today’s elderly are able and keen to afford.

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