After a difficult two-year stretch in which its stock peaked at nearly $80 a share in July 2011 and then fell below $45 in December 2013, Digital Realty Trust (NYSE:DLR) has been on a strong run in 2014, with its stock rising by 33%.
While we are neither suggesting it will happen, nor recommending you should buy the stock simply because of them, there are three reasons to think its stock could continue to rise.
Compelling business mix
While it isn't a household name, Digital Realty is a behemoth of a company, with a market cap of nearly $9 billion. Although it is a REIT -- meaning it invests principally in property and in turn is required to pay out 90% of its income to shareholders -- it in many ways is unlike the typical REIT, which often owns commercial properties that are used by restaurants or retail stores.
Instead Digital Realty owns a collect of properties that are in turn leased out to more than 600 tenants used entirely for data center purposes.
And if you're anything like me, the moment you hear "data center" you immediately think of the often used term "Big Data" that seems to warrant a headline in just about every business publication every week. Consider how much it has skyrocketed in popularity on Google search in just the last few years.
More than two years ago Harvard Business Review ran the story "Big Data: The Management Revolution", which began by noting:
"You can't manage what you don't measure." There's much wisdom in that saying, which has been attributed to both W. Edwards Deming and Peter Drucker, and it explains why the recent explosion of digital data is so important. Simply put, because of big data, managers can measure, and hence know, radically more about their businesses, and directly translate that knowledge into improved decision making and performance.
This was one of the countless examples that talked to how greater access and understanding surrounding the data that is now generated by businesses and their customers is going to revolutionize every company everywhere.
Even the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation noted it was awarding grants for big data purposes and Bill Gates himself noted on Twitter:
Big Data is helping find new uses for old drugs, like an antidepressant that might fight some lung tumors: http://t.co/sF8Mrs4l7k— Bill Gates (@BillGates) November 27, 2013
All of this is to say, since Digital Realty finds itself in the midst of one of the burgeoning industries, demand for its locations and services could only continue to rise, which could mean big things for the company.
Continued commitment to dividend growth
Next on the list is not simply speculation surrounding the industry it finds itself in, but also the reality Digital Realty has been committed to growing its dividend over the last decade:
And the company also notes that its dividend yield of 5.6% at the beginning of July was substantially higher than 4.2% average yield of peers DuPont Fabros Technology (NYSE: DFT), CoreSite Realty (NYSE:COR), CyrusOne (NASDAQ:CONE), and QTS Realty Trust (NYSE:QTS).
Although that yield has fallen to a little over 5% thanks to the strong growth in its share price, it still pays out at a higher rate than its peers.
This commitment to a growing dividend as well as its top of class yield would only continue to reward shareholders if maintained into the future.
Strong international presence
At last count 77% of the rent Digital Realty brings in is from its data center operations in North America, with 19% from Europe, and the remaining 4% from Asia. In fact the company itself notes it "is the leading global provider of data center and colocation solutions," (emphasis added).
As a result of this reality, Bill Stein, the interim CEO of Digital Realty noted on the most recent earnings call:
The final catalyst connecting our incredible enterprise customer base to the cloud service providers they now need to grow, is the deployment of our global network ecosystem. This mutual attraction and our interconnected global portfolio essentially act as a wide moat that is extremely difficult for competitors to replicate. No one else has the footprint and the cost structure to effectively service the enterprise customer on a global basis.
In other words, since it has such an expansive network, it has the opportunity to offer solutions to companies in the data landscape that are distinctly unique. And this capability could only continue to lead to the growth of its business and capabilities into the future.
The Foolish bottom line
When it comes to investing, there is more to a decision than three simple reasons, especially when none of them have to do with its relative value and a consideration of its core financial performance. More work needs to be done in the case of Digital Realty, but a quick glance shows there are a number of things to like about this company and its future.