2 High Yielding REITs With Positive Catalysts

Includes: IRT, WSR
by: Bret Jensen

The market continues to receive mixed and worrying signals on which way the economy is going. Some of this can be blamed on some of the worst weather in over two decades across much of country. However, these numbers could also be signaling a deceleration in the economy after better than 3% GDP growth in the back half of 2013.

This could well mark another 'false start' that has been a hallmark on what continues to be the weakest post war recovery on record. Ten Year Treasury yields are below 2.7% currently from just over 3% to start the year.

In addition, we are seeing a continuing escalation of tensions in the Ukraine. Emerging Markets of Argentina, Venezuela, Turkey and India are also troubled and could trigger a 'flight to safety' if conditions worsen.

This should continue to bode well for the high-yield sectors that underperformed in 2013 as interest rates rose, but are pockets of strength early in the New Year.

Here are a couple of high yielding real estate investment trusts (REITs) that I hold in my income portfolio and that have had positive catalysts recently. I believe this will continue to outperform the market in the first half of the year.

Independence Realty Trust (NYSEMKT:IRT) is a real estate investment trust that seeks to own well-located apartment properties in geographic submarkets that it believes support strong occupancy and the potential for growth in rental rates.

The REIT posted better than expected quarterly results last week. FFO (Funds from Operations) came in at 20 cents a share, three cents above the consensus. Revenue also slightly beat expectations.

Independence pays a monthly dividend that provides a yield north of eight percent (8.3%) on an annual basis. The company recently hiked its payout even though it just came public in the summer of 2013. For some reason, the yield does not show up on Yahoo Finance, so it is not showing up in some income investors' filters.

Independence should post better than 100% on revenue growth mainly as the result of acquisitions and sells at a very reasonable ~11x FFO given its dividend yield. The shares go for ~$8.60 a share. Only three analysts cover the stock, and they have price targets in a tight range of $9.50 to $10.50 a share.

Whitestone REIT (NYSEMKT:WSR) is a fully integrated real estate company that owns, operates and redevelops Community Centered Properties, which are visibly located properties in established or developing culturally diverse neighborhoods. The REIT owns and manages about 50 Community Center Properties, including retail, office and office/flex space, with 4.5 million square feet of gross leasing area. Almost all of Whitestone's properties are located in fast-growing Texas and Arizona.

The REIT got a nice upgrade from JMP Securities last week. JMP boosted its rating on Whitestone to "Outperform" and put a $16 a share price target on the shares. This matches the median price target that the four analysts that cover the stock have on WSR, which is currently selling at ~$14.30 a share.

This is another REIT that pays a monthly dividend whose annual yield is near eight percent (7.9%). Insiders were frequent small purchasers of the stock in the last six months of 2013. FFO is projected to grow ~20% this year, and WSR goes for a reasonable 13x this year's expected FFO, given its yield and growth projections.

Disclosure: I am long IRT, WSR. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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