Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are often sought after for their reliable, attractive dividend returns, but REITs can also make great growth stocks.
Right now, most real estate industries are booming across the country, which has helped REITs grow to massive heights. Over the past year, REITs achieved a near 40% return year to date, outperforming the S&P 500 by over 10%.
There is some concern about the real estate market cooling in 2022, but regardless of where it goes, Mid-America Apartment Communities (MAA 0.27%), Switch (SWCH), and Plymouth Industrial REIT (PLYM) are all in a solid position for serious growth. Here's a closer look at each company and why these REIT stocks are worthwhile buys for long-term investors.
1. Mid-America Apartment Communities
Housing is the epitome of an essential service. People will always need a place to live. And right now, as housing prices soar and homes remain in low supply, rental housing is becoming an increasingly necessary way to house America. Mid-America Apartment Communities is one of the leading apartment REITs, providing over 97,000 housing units for rent, primarily across the Sun Belt markets of the U.S.
The rise of remote work has prompted hundreds of thousands of Americans to move south. States like Florida, Arizona, and Texas, as well as markets including Southern California and Las Vegas, are experiencing robust inward migration as people seek more affordable living conditions, favorable weather, and job opportunities. This puts MAA in the perfect position for steady growth. In Q3 2021, MAA achieved a 15% blended lease-over-lease price growth and projects a 10% range for 2021 full-year rental growth.
The company predicts rent growth in the markets it serves to reach 22% on a weighted basis between 2022 and 2026 and has a robust renovation program to help improve its existing portfolio for added rental value, in addition to new developments and acquisitions. Share prices year to date grew 83%, and MAA increased dividends for the final quarter of the year, meaning investors now receive a 1.89% dividend yield. While it's not a huge dividend payer, its growth potential is what makes it a real standout buy today.
Data centers make up one of the hottest asset classes within the commercial real estate industry right now. As society becomes more reliant on technology and cloud-based solutions, data center providers like Switch have a lot of room to grow. Unlike other major data center REITs, Switch operates six massive prime campuses strategically placed across the country to serve the five core regions of the U.S.
For the nine months ended 2021, Switch's net income grew 72% year over year (YoY), and its earnings per share (EPS) grew 33%. The company's share price growth and annualized return outperformed its two closest competitors by as much as 50 percentage points.
Switch has a clear vision to help expand its current campuses, with the intention of adding 6 million square feet by 2026 and beyond.
Switch isn't actually a REIT -- yet. The company is set to transition into a REIT at the start of 2023, but once the changeover is complete, the REIT structure should give the company more flexibility for financing its growth and expansion efforts, making it a great buy today.
3. Plymouth Industrial REIT
Plymouth Industrial REIT is an up-and-coming growth stock that isn't on a lot of investors' radars -- at least not yet. The company, which specializes in ownership and leasing of industrial space, including warehouse and distribution centers, as well as small industrial bays across secondary markets in the U.S., has achieved stellar growth in 2021 and has a lot more room to grow in the future.
Supply chain challenges have brought industrial demand for manufacturing and distribution space back home. This has helped Plymouth achieve a 118% annualized return for the past year while growing revenue 26% YoY and increasing net income per share by 90% YoY for the nine months ended 2021.
The company is still operating a net loss, which is definitely not ideal but also not a deal breaker, given the long-term demand for industrial space, particularly in the markets the company operates in. The fact that the company is trending upward and trading at a discount as it relates to its performance makes it a worthwhile growth opportunity for patient investors.
Three promising options
All three of these growth stocks are in a strong position for growth in 2022 and beyond. Market uncertainty continues to create a lot of volatility in the stock market today, meaning pricing and returns in 2022 could be impacted in the event of a correction. However, given the quality of the portfolios among their perspective industries in the real estate market, these three companies' long-term growth opportunities shouldn't be impacted by short-term issues.