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This Retail Stock Has Quadrupled Since the 2020 Lows -- And Is Still Worth a Look

By Matthew Frankel, CFP®, Tyler Crowe, and Jason Hall – Updated Nov 19, 2021 at 3:34PM

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Despite excellent performance, this company still looks cheap.

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT 1.53%) has rebounded tremendously from its collapse in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in this Fool Live video clip, recorded on Nov. 4, Fool.com contributors Matt Frankel, Jason Hall, and Tyler Crowe discuss why the gains are well-deserved and why Tanger still looks like an attractive long-term investment.

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Matt Frankel: We are going to talk about earnings from one of my favorite retail real estate investment trusts, Tanger Factory Outlets. I'm so excited about this because the three of us spent almost as much time talking about Tanger on Slack last March than we did writing.

Jason Hall: Yeah, easily.

Frankel: I remember messages going back and forth like "$5 a share, is this real?" This is a profitable business. Is there a trick here? What is it? I think we all hit the "Buy" button simultaneously on this one. Pretty close to it.

Hall: I'm looking right now. I can't remember. I want to see what my cost basis is. I bought it a bunch times.

Frankel: Mine is $5.83.

Tyler Crowe: I don't think I did that good because I had a legacy position, so I think I'm $11 or something like that.

Frankel: Today, Tanger is trading at between $21 and $22. I don't have it right in front of me. It's up 30% in the last week and the big reason is earnings. Tanger's earnings looked fantastic. This is better than pre-pandemic numbers. Tanger's occupancy was declining before the pandemic. Now it's finally trending in the right direction. They would've loved to see this in 2018 or 2019. Their occupancy is up 130 basis points sequentially quarter-over-quarter. Let me start doing a great job of leasing up this vacant space that was left by companies like the Ascena brands which has lost parent, and J.Crew. All these retailers that went bankrupt in that space. They're doing a great job of leasing it up. They have a rent spread of 240 basis points, meaning that when they release it, they're making more money than they were before which is really impressive. Get this, Tanger's average tenant is selling $448 per square foot. That is an all-time high.

Hall: Yeah, they were in the high $300s was really good before.

Frankel: Right. This is 13% higher than the pre-pandemic peak.

Hall: That's just inflation. It doesn't matter.

Frankel: It's transitory, right? Traffic is unchanged from pre-pandemic levels. This is impressive because it's without international travel, which is a big part of the outlet shopping clientele. A lot of people come over from Europe to Florida where there's a ton of outlet malls and South Carolina coast, there's a bunch of Tanger Outlets where I live. International businesses is a lot of their clientele and that's not happening now, and it's already recovered the pre-pandemic levels. This is very promising.

They collected 98% of the deferred rent from the pandemic. Core funds from operations translates to a 39% dividend payout ratio, which they just increased their dividend and I bet you there's another one coming in another quarter or two. It's not quite at pre pandemic levels but the stock yields 3.4%. So it's a pretty nice dividend stock even after the increase, and they raised their full-year guidance by 9% at the midpoint for funds from operations after this quarter. This business is just surprising a lot of people. I don't think it's surprising the three of us as much as the general investing public because we looked at that $5.00 or whatever share price last year, said, are you kidding me? You have to buy this. What do you guys think?

Crowe: At least at the time, I know when we were discussing it, it gave the appearance or it was being priced as though the business is worth pennies on the dollar, it was going to get called on debt and was probably going to sell assets or maybe even some sort of restructuring, Chapter 11 or something like that. The way that the market is treating this stock. The one thing I do remember looking at it with the three of us and saying, well, interest coverage is still there. They're paying their debt. Debtholders can't call you on your debt if you're paying your interest. As bad as it was, there were still some wiggle room, and so I think that was the position I looked at it originally. Today, as happy as I am and pleased to see what's going on.

Tyler Crowe owns shares of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers. The Motley Fool recommends Tanger Factory Outlet Centers. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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