College Dorm Dividends

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Includes: ACC, EDR
by: Divhut

As a dividend growth investor, I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting income investment opportunities. This usually leads me down the path of your typical Dividend Aristocrats, but every once in a while you come across an interesting sector or business segment that: a) you never thought existed, and b) could potentially fulfill a void in an overall dividend income portfolio.

I thought I already knew every type of real estate development company out there and every REIT type that existed. A while back, I wrote an overview about timber REITs, and recently, have been reading about some buys among our fellow dividend bloggers in EPR Properties (NYSE:EPR), an entertainment, recreation and education REIT. Who knew you could invest in water parks, ski resorts and golf courses? When we typically think of REITs, we automatically tend to gravitate to the more well-known REIT types, such as healthcare, industrial, retail and even office. But did you know you could invest in college dormitories?

College dorm investing has been very hot so far this year, and is essentially dominated by just two players. Of course, a low interest rate environment helps any real estate-related business, as borrowing and development costs are cheaper, but another tail wind is seemingly pushing this real estate segment along: aging and worn out existing dormitory facilities, many of which are at least 50 years or older. It's funny to think of aging as a tailwind for any industry. Typically, we cite an aging Baby Boomer population to boost healthcare REITs in the coming decades, but aging college dormitories present the same long-term opportunities. With that being said, let's take an overview of the two prominent players in the college dorm space.

First up is American Campus Communities, Inc. (NYSE:ACC), the nation's largest owner and manager of student housing. ACC currently yields 3.2%, but seems a bit pricey at current levels with a P/FFO of 23. Its five-year average P/FFO is 19, and with a significant run-up in 2016, this stock is clearly on a hot uptrend. In fact, ACC is up about 28% this year alone, and has an annualized five-year total return of 10.6%.

The other major player in the college dorm space is Education Realty Trust (NYSE:EDR). Like ACC, EDR is a REIT that invests in college campus housing by developing, acquiring, owning, and managing collegiate housing communities located near university campuses. The REIT also yields 3.2% and sports a P/FFO of 28 well above its five-year average of 22. Like ACC, EDR is also having a banner 2016, gaining approximately 26% year to date. Its annualized five-year total return of 15.8% clearly demonstrates the long-term tailwinds that this sector is currently experiencing. In fact, just this month, EDR raised its dividend 3%, its sixth straight increase in dividend.

Both REITs definitely seem like interesting places to invest in for the foreseeable future. With literally thousands of crumbling dorm facilities across the U.S., it looks like these two REITs have a lot more runway to put up impressive growth numbers.

Have you ever considered investing in college dormitories? Do you think either of these companies have a place in your dividend income portfolio? Please let me know below.

Disclosure: Long none.