Financial markets have been worried all year long about the near-term outlook of the U.S. economy. Along with geopolitical worries in Eastern Europe and Taiwan, this has pushed the S&P 500 index 14% lower year-to-date.
Since the stock market is really a market of individual stocks, some stocks have performed much worse so far, and some have held up much better. Down 4% and up 16% year-to-date, respectively, real estate investment trusts (REITs) American Tower (AMT -2.03%) and VICI Properties (VICI 0.26%) fit into the latter category. Here's why both stocks are still arguably buys.
1. American Tower
Think for a moment: When's the last time you were out in public and didn't see at least one person using their smartphone? I'd be willing to bet it's been quite a while.
American Tower is the largest communications REIT in the world, with more than 220,000 cell towers and a couple dozen data centers. This positions the company at the forefront of making it possible for us to frequently use our smartphones. American Tower's infrastructure is in high demand, which is why major telecom tenants such as T-Mobile agree to initial lease terms of five to 10 years. And the company's leases also come with 3% annual escalators in the United States, and international escalators tied to local inflation indices.
As much as global monthly mobile data consumption has exploded over the past decade with the rise of smartphones, the best is yet to come for American Tower. That's because it is projected that major markets like the United States, Germany, France, and Brazil will experience double-digit annual percentage growth rates in monthly smartphone data usage through 2027.
Along with its steadily growing rent revenue from already owned properties stemming from lease escalators, American Tower will be making plenty of investments in the years ahead to meet this surging mobile data demand.
And if that wasn't enough, the stock offers investors a 2.1% dividend yield. Shares of American Tower can be purchased at a forward price to adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) ratio of 28.4, which is worth it for a company with a promising future.
2. VICI Properties
As the owner of 43 world-class gaming facilities in Las Vegas and throughout the United States, VICI Properties is the largest experiential REIT on the planet. Its properties include the iconic Caesars Palace Las Vegas, Venetian Resort Las Vegas, and Borgata.
When gaming companies need capital to reduce debt or finance property constructions, VICI Properties is often their first choice. This explains how the company's real estate portfolio boasts the longest weighted average lease term among all publicly traded REITs at 43 years. And since the REIT has collected 100% of its rent from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has proven itself to be one of the most stable real estate businesses in the world. VICI Properties also has an astonishingly high 96% of its rent roll that will be linked to the consumer price index by 2035. This is a mechanism that builds growing rent revenue into the equation from the start for the company.
VICI Properties provides yield-oriented investors with a 4.2% dividend yield. And given the targeted dividend payout ratio of 75%, investors can sleep easy at night knowing that there is a large buffer to maintain the dividend in an economic downturn. This also serves the purpose of allowing the REIT to retain enough funds to keep acquiring properties in the future.
Best of all, VICI Properties is trading at a forward price-to-AFFO-per-share ratio of 18.2. This is hardly a premium valuation for a company with plenty of growth left in its future, which is what makes VICI Properties a buy.