I'm old enough to remember the days when I would go to the public library to gather information about stocks from Value Line and Standard & Poor's. If a company looked promising I would phone the investor relations department and ask them to mail a packet of material.
Today, investment education technology has vastly improved the resources available to individual investors. Here's an example from one of my favorite stocks, W.P. Carey (NYSE:WPC).
I was introduced to WPC in a May 5, 2008 Peter Statin article in Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2008/0505/110.html). Statin recommended WPC, which was then a "non-REIT blend of a property portfolio with a management business." The same article also recommended two REITs, National Retail Properties (NYSE:NNN) and Lexington Realty Trust (NYSE:LXP). At the time, LXP was at $14, with a 9% yield. NNN was at $22, with a 6% yield. Statin's article showed WPC at $29, with a 6.3% yield.
I began to study WPC and made my first purchase in July 2009 at $23.99. If you were in the market between May 2008 and July 2009, you will remember that scary roller-coaster ride. Even in the dark days of early 2009, I remember thinking, "If I had more money, I would put it in the market." The bear market crushed strong stocks along with weak ones. The strong ones maintained their financial discipline and they bounced back.
The initial July 2009 purchase of WPC at $23.99 bought an annual dividend of $1.99 a share, for a yield of 8.3%. WPC became a REIT in 2012. The closing price on May 10, 2013 was $74.64. The annual dividend is now $3.28, for a current yield of 4.4%.
These numbers are just background information. The point I want to make in this article is about the technology of investment education and the vast amount of information that is available today at the individual investor's fingertips.
I have followed WPC closely for five years. It has been a stellar part of my retirement income portfolio for almost four years. I am always on the lookout for articles about WPC. I read the quarterly earnings transcripts made available by Seeking Alpha. I listen to the quarterly conference calls via the WPC website. I understand this company fairly well. But my knowledge about W.P. Carey was greatly enhanced by a resource that provides a rich "tutorial" about WPC. It is a 3-hour, 42-minute presentation of their annual Investor Day webcast from April 2013.
One company executive said this was the first Investor Day that attracted more investors than employees--which is the result of their conversion to REIT status and increased interest by the investment community. You need not listen to the entire webcast to get a good glimpse of how this company investigates potential real estate investments and how they manage their global portfolio.
You can access the Investor Day webcast from their website: http://ir.wpcarey.com/QuarterlyResults.aspx?iid=4054624
The audio webcast is accompanied by an effective slide presentation. But technology will keep pushing the envelope. The rapid growth of video as a percentage of Internet data traffic will mean that before long, this sort of webcast will be available in video format.
This is not intended as a recommendation to buy WPC, but rather as an introduction to an excellent resource for studying this company. (I would be interested to hear about other companies that have provided similar resources on their websites.)
Disclosure: I am long WPC, NNN. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.