We originally covered the real estate investment trust's IPO just before it hit the market in early 2015. Now that it's been trading for over a year, here's a refresher about the company's operations, and how it's performed since then.
The stock market is crammed with a great many real estate investment trusts of every conceivable dimension and size. So much so that an investor could be forgiven for asking if there's really any need for yet another one.
The answer seems to be "yes," given how Easterly Government Properties (NYSE:DEA) stock has performed since its IPO. Here's a brief rundown on the company's business, and how it's done since its debut on the market.
Fed by the Feds
Easterly's descriptive name gives away its game. It concentrates on providing office space for a raft of federal government agencies. No matter which one is your favorite, the company probably has it as a tenant -- the FBI, DEA, the Coast Guard, and yes, even the Military Entrance Processing Command all occupy its buildings.
All told, at the end of last year the REIT fully owned 36 properties, 33 of which were leased primarily or exclusively to government agencies. Funds from operations -- the key profitability metric for REITs -- totaled $41 million, or $1.04 per share. From that, it's currently paying a quarterly dividend of $0.23 per share. At the current stock price, that yields 4.9%.
That percentage would be higher if it weren't for the stock's nice appreciation over the year-plus since its IPO. It was priced at $15 per share for the market, and it has risen by nearly 25% since then to the current price of nearly $19.
Perhaps that's because Easterly's niche, although it might not be the most colorful or exciting segment in the market, has some crucial advantages.
A big one is that it allows the REIT to deal with a centralized organization. Easterly lets its properties through the General Services Administration, the arm of the Feds that acts as the real estate intermediary for a great many government bodies. Better, GSA leases are underpinned by the full faith and credit of the government, and according to Easterly the agency has never defaulted on any arrangement.
Which is to be expected. Government entities, it almost goes without saying, don't (typically) go out of business. They also usually conduct their affairs slowly and deliberately, so any landlord that can lock one in as a tenant can be assured of steady and reliable rent income.
There are, naturally, drawbacks to such a business profile. Because it consists of careful and not particularly dynamic entities, the government segment doesn't have the best potential for sharp growth. Additionally, Federal agencies can take forever to reach a decision on an important matter... such as, say, where to rent an office and who from.
How the government can pay YOU
Its most direct competitor of Easterly is a fairly obscure REIT called Government Properties Income Trust (NASDAQ:GOV). Like Easterly, it's well in the black and pays a dividend. As far as the former is concerned, FFO rose by 7% on a year-over-year basis in its Q1 to $0.62 per share, while it pays a quarterly distribution of $0.43.
At the current share price this yields 8.7%, beating Easterly.
Those numbers aren't bad at all. So government is a real estate sector that's steady and does pay out. REIT investors looking for something on the steady and reliable end of the sector, then, might still consider buying shares in Easterly.