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Many jaded investors would argue that finding a smart REIT investment is considerably more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. And with the widespread uncertainty in the housing market, it just might seem that way. But since savvy investors know that it takes hard work to find any worthy investment, today we focused on REITs by filtering for two key traits: strong track records of earnings, and votes of confidence from industry analysts. Both of these characteristics signal the REITs in question have a variety of factors working in their favor. We arrived at a short, but interesting list of REIT stocks for you to consider.

EPS growth (earnings per share growth) illustrates the growth of earnings per share over time. EPS growth rates help investors identify stocks that are increasing or decreasing in profitability. This profitability metric is generally a key driver in the price of the stock as it directly correlates to the profitability of the company as a whole.

The net margin is a profitability metric that illustrates, by percentage, how much of every dollar earned gets turned into a bottom line profit. This is just one of many profitability metrics used by investors and analysts to better understand what the company is being left with at the end of the day. Generally, a firm that can expand its net profit margins over a period of time will see its stock price rise as well due to the trend of increasing profitability. Net Margin = Net Income/Total Revenue.

We first looked for REIT stocks. Next, we screened for businesses that have posted strong earnings growth for shareholders over an extended period of time (1-year fiscal EPS growth rate>10%)(Net Margin [TTM]>10%). Then we screened for businesses that analysts rate as "Buy" or "Strong Buy" (mean recommendation < 3). We did not screen out any market caps.

Do you think these stocks hold value that has yet to be priced in? Use our list along with your own analysis.

1) Starwood Property Trust, Inc. (NYSE:STWD)

SectorFinancial
IndustryREIT - Diversified
Market Cap$2.69B
Beta-

STWD stock chart

Key Metrics

Earnings Per Share Growth Rate21.85%
Net Margin57.03%
Analysts' Rating1.60
Short Interest3.68%

Starwood Property Trust, Inc. engages in originating, investing in, financing, and managing commercial mortgage loans, other commercial real estate debt investments, commercial mortgage-backed securities, and other commercial real estate-related debt investments. It also invests in residential mortgage loans and residential mortgage-backed securities, as well as commercial properties subject to net leases. SPT Management, LLC serves as the manager of Starwood Property Trust, Inc. The company qualifies as a real estate investment trust for federal income tax purposes and would not be subject to federal corporate income taxes, if it distributes at least 90% of its taxable income to its stockholders. Starwood Property Trust, Inc. was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut.

2) One Liberty Properties Inc. (NYSE:OLP)

SectorFinancial
IndustryREIT - Diversified
Market Cap$275.06M
Beta1.96

OLP stock chart

Key Metrics

Earnings Per Share Growth Rate22.37%
Net Margin27.27%
Analysts' Rating2.00
Short Interest2.66%

One Liberty Properties, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the acquisition, ownership, and management of commercial real estate properties in the United States. The company's property portfolio includes retail furniture stores, as well as industrial, office, flex, health and fitness, and other properties. As of March 31, 2008, it owned 67 properties; holds a 50% tenancy in common interest in 1 property; and owns 4 properties through joint ventures. The company has elected to be treated as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code. As a REIT, it would not be subject to federal income tax, if it distributes at least 90% of its taxable income to its shareholders. One Liberty Properties was founded in 1982 and is based in Great Neck, New York.

3) Gladstone Commercial Corp. (NASDAQ:GOOD)

SectorFinancial
IndustryREIT - Diversified
Market Cap$212.54M
Beta0.88

GOOD stock chart

Key Metrics

Earnings Per Share Growth Rate62.35%
Net Margin10.65%
Analysts' Rating1.50
Short Interest5.80%

Gladstone Commercial Corporation operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) in the United States. It engages in investing in and owning net leased industrial and commercial real properties, and making long-term industrial and commercial mortgage loans. The company leases its real estate properties to small businesses, as well as to large public companies. As of December 31, 2009, it owned 64 properties, and held 1 mortgage loan. The company qualifies as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. As a REIT, it would not be subject to federal tax to the extent that it distributes at least 90% of its taxable income to its shareholders. The company was founded in 2003 and is based in McLean, Virginia.

4) National Retail Properties, Inc. (NYSE:NNN)

SectorFinancial
IndustryREIT - Diversified
Market Cap$3.30B
Beta0.86

NNN stock chart

Key Metrics

Earnings Per Share Growth Rate23.50%
Net Margin36.12%
Analysts' Rating2.10
Short Interest9.49%

National Retail Properties, Inc. is a publicly owned equity real estate investment trust. The firm acquires, owns, manages, and develops retail properties in the United States. It provides complete turn-key and built-to-suit development services including market analysis, site selection and acquisition, entitlements, permitting, and construction management. The firm also focuses on purchasing and financing net-leased retail properties. It was formerly known as Commercial Net Lease Realty, Inc. National Retail Properties was founded in August 1984 and is based in Orlando, Florida.

*Company profiles were sourced from Google Finance and Yahoo Finance. Financial data was sourced from Finviz on August 23, 2012.

Source: 4 Profitable REITs That Analysts Love