They say that the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. Accountants have the taxes market all wrapped up, so what about the death market? Lawyers get to deal with the estate, but InvoCare Limited (ASX: IVC) will probably handle the funeral.

Invocare is Australia’s dominant funeral and cemetery business with a market share of roughly 33%. At $1.4 billion in size it doesn’t seem large, and it doesn’t have any major competitors. Here are three reasons why I like InvoCare:

1. The revenue is dependable and growing.

The death rate in Australia is forecasted to keep growing until 2034 and as long as InvoCare can maintain (or grow) its 33% market share then it will receive reliable revenue gains.

InvoCare has a number of different brands such as White Lady Funerals, Simplicity Funerals and Value Funerals. These businesses are aimed at different price points, meaning InvoCare has a brand to cater for every customer’s budget.

InvoCare also continues to make small acquisitions so that it won’t lose market share.

2. The dividend is reliable and rising

It has increased its dividend every year since 2005. I love businesses that pay a rising stream of dividends and InvoCare has been very successful in this regard so far.

Considering the death rate is expected to grow until 2034, it’s reasonable to think that InvoCare can keep growing the dividend for a long time to come.

3. InvoCare is expanding in the USA

Although the USA operation is very small at this stage it is a huge potential market and opportunity. At the moment it’s only operating in southern California.

The USA business grew its sales to $1.5 million for the half year to 30 June 2016 FY16 (1H) from $0.5 million in the prior corresponding period. If it can grow its sales at a good rate over the next few years then this could start noticeably adding to InvoCare’s total sales and profit.

Risks?

Competition from other funeral providers could be an issue if they challenge InvoCare’s dominance, however that isn’t an issue at the moment. InvoCare will have to continue to make sure that its prices remain competitive.

The average age of the Australian population continues to increase, which delays expected sales. In InvoCare’s 1H 2016 report it disclosed that deaths in Australia were 0.3% down on the prior corresponding period. Thankfully Primary Health Care Limited (ASX: PRY), Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC), CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) and others are serving their purpose well and keeping our loved ones around longer.

Is it time to buy InvoCare?

InvoCare shares don’t normally trade cheaply, it’s currently trading at 26x FY16’s earnings and 22.9x FY18’s estimated earnings (source: Commsec). Considering it’s not expected to grow a lot over the next two years, this price might be too much for some investors to stomach. It has a grossed up dividend yield of 4.3% which is decent in this era of low interest rates.

I think InvoCare could be a really dependable part of a Foolish investor’s portfolio. It might be the defensive business that you have been looking for.

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Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison owns shares in InvoCare Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.