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  • Writer's pictureIshfaaq Peerally

What are REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts)?

Today, there are two main events for today are $RTN and $UTX merging to form the second largest aerospace company in the world after $BA . Another merger happening soon is $DATA being acquired by $CRM . I'm already looking at all these companies and I'll make video analysis of them soon. I'm also looking for the possibilities of arbitrage deals

Let's now talk about REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts). One of the greatest inventions in financial history is the mutual fund which is a collection of stocks and bonds run by an asset manager and you can buy shares of the that mutual fund. Over the years, mutual funds took many different forms including hedge funds(which can include short positions), ETFs(which can be traded) and even index funds which follows market indices such as the $DJ30 . You can say that copying someone on eToro is a sort of mutual fund. What about doing the same thing with Real Estate? Creating a fund which manages real estate and then allowing people to buy shares of this fund. The fund here is actually called a trust, a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). a REIT is usually traded on the stock market as any company would. So why a company would want to become a REIT? They have tax advantages. But any real estate company cannot become a REIT, they have to meet some criteria first. For example, they need to have more than 100 shareholders(that's why you will see that the Trump Organization will never become a REIT), 75% of the assets should be in Real Estate or cash, they should pay 90% of their profits as dividends(The largest real estate company in the world $MCD cannot become a REIT for this reason, paying dividends won't be good for their restaurant business).

There are different kinds of REITs. Some hold only equity, others mortgage and others a combination of both. Some of the REITs own residential complexes $EQR $AVB $MAA , others retail spaces, offices and even telecommunication towers $AMT $CCI .

The most attractive thing about REITs is the 90% dividend payout. But we should be careful with that. Here's how I analyze REITs: I first look at the Free cash flow (operating cash flow minus capital expenditure). This is the amount of money that the company has left after all its operations and to maintain its assets in a working position. Then, I look for how much they paid as dividends out of the FCF. The amount of money left is the amount of money the company will be using to grow organically. If that amount is negative, it means they will have to take debts to continue growing. Since REITs makes use of mortgages a lot, they usually have high Debts, so this is another thing to look for. Overall, a REIT is a business so analyze it like you would analyze any business. For example, $CCI builds towers for communication. Look at how many towers they already have and how many more they are building. Look for 5G towers, because this is the future. Look at who are their clients, to whom they are renting spaces on these towers, how much they make per tower, how much it costs them to build and maintain a tower,...

Over the last 20 years REITs have outperformed the $SPX500 by 400%. That's because they are very attractive to investors. And this makes them expensive, so you should not invest in any REIT just because it is a REIT. For example, $AMT has a dividend yield of 1.5% although they pay 90% of their profits in dividends. They also have a P/E or 70 which shows how expensive the stock is. There are also REIT ETFs which you can consider investing in $RWR $USRT

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