Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are more known for their dividends than their growth prospects. However, some REITs offer the best of both worlds. They pay attractive dividends and deliver strong growth.
An attractive and steadily rising payout
EastGroup Properties recently declared its 170th consecutive quarterly dividend. The industrial REIT's yield is over 2.6% at the current share price. That's well above the 1.6% dividend yield on an S&P 500 index fund.
That above-average income stream is only part of EastGroup Properties' draw. It's also growing at a rapid rate. The REIT's funds from operations (FFO) surged 17% per share in the second quarter. Same property net operating income was up 9.5% year over year, driven by increased occupancy and surging rents. Occupancy improved from 98.1% to 99.1%, while rental rates on new and renewal leases jumped a staggering 37.2%. It's benefiting from the continued strong demand for warehouse space.
Meanwhile, EastGroup continues to expand its portfolio. It acquired Tulloch Corporation in the second quarter for about $415 million, some other properties with value-add potential for an additional $47 million, and 116.8 acres of land for future development. The company also started three development projects, bringing its total to 28 across 15 cities, representing over $550 million of investment potential. These investments position the REIT to continue growing its income. Add in the rental growth of its existing properties, and it should continue expanding its FFO per share at a healthy clip.
The company's growing rental income has enabled it to steadily increase its dividend. The REIT has raised its dividend 26 times over the last 29 years, including for the last 10 straight years. It most recently boosted its dividend by 22.2% last December, driven partly by the rapid rise in its rental income.
Benefiting from robust demand
MAA recently declared its 114th consecutive quarterly dividend. The apartment-focused residential REIT also offers an above-average dividend yield, which currently clocks in at 2.7%.
It's also growing fast. Net operating income surged 17.1% in the second quarter, driven by a strong occupancy of 95.7% and a 17.2% increase in rental rates. That's an eye-popping rental growth rate. The industry typically considers mid-single-digit annual rent growth an excellent year.
CEO Eric Bolton commented on what's driving its growth. He stated in the earnings release, "Leasing conditions across our Sunbelt markets remain robust as strong job growth, positive migration trends, and the higher cost of single-family homeownership fuels a growing demand for apartment housing." Meanwhile, core FFO per share jumped 23.7%, thanks to the strong performance of its existing properties and the continued expansion of its portfolio.
MAA also benefited from completing four new communities starting to lease up. Meanwhile, it finished renovating 1,844 apartments in the period, enabling it to capture 11% higher rents than non-renovated units. The REIT also took steps to continue growing in the future. It has five more communities under development representing $444 million of future investment. It also acquired a multifamily community in Tampa while securing land to start additional developments in Orlando and Denver over the next year.
When combined with rising rental income from its existing properties, MAA's steadily expanding portfolio should enable it to continue growing its dividend. MAA recently gave its investors a 15% raise and has increased the dividend every year for over a decade.
These dual drivers are delivering strong returns
EastGroup Properties and MAA aren't your average REITs. They pay attractive dividends and offer enticing growth potential. Those two traits have enabled them to produce market-beating total returns over the last several years. With more growth ahead, these REITs should be able to continue enriching their shareholders. Those features make them great stocks to consider buying and holding long-term.