This is part of The Motley Fool's annual Stocks for Mom special.
American Financial Realty:
Trading at $14.78 as of 5/4/04
52-week high: $18.62
52-week low: $13.40
All moms are landlords. Some of them have a boatload of tenants crammed into every room of the house (read: children). Some just have one tenant left (read: Dad). But, either way, moms are known for offering a host of services in addition to providing a warm, cozy place for their tenants to hang their hats.
Beyond that, however, most moms share another trait: They typically go uncompensated for the services they provide. Oh sure, they get lots of love, and we get them a card on Mother's Day, but Mom cannot live on love and cardboard alone. She could also use some big piles of dough -- and I mean the banking kind, not the baking kind.
To that end, perhaps Mom should start leasing her property to the local bank instead. I mean, hey, banks make far more credit-worthy tenants -- they don't stay up late, and they don't eat as much. And, fear not, mom won't have to turn little Susie's dollhouse into an ATM to make this happen.
Enter American Financial Realty Trust
The company currently has about 600 properties located in 28 states. Most of these tenants have signed 10- to 20-year net leases that contain built-in rent increases.
American Financial recently closed deals with top-tier banks such as previous Motley Fool Income Investor selection AmSouth
Why banks? Well, because this type of tenant is one of the safest in the real estate business. As you might suspect, most banks are very credit-worthy institutions. In addition, they don't often move, and these traits can generate a very reliable and robust stream of income for mom.
How robust? Well, American Financial is currently yielding a solid 6.8%. So, Mom is getting a 2.4% premium over the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, yet she'll receive that premium while investing in some of the safest financial institutions in the world. Many of American Financial's peers have portfolios that focus on higher-risk tenants, yet these peers are yielding substantially less.
Now, we can't focus on yield alone, as Mom will only truly benefit if the company can grow in addition to sending out those dividend checks. But, rest assured, this firm can and will. American Financial is rapidly becoming the landlord of choice for top banks. Its customer list already boasts half of the top-10 banks in the U.S., and it continues to acquire top-quality properties at a fair pace.
Despite this, it has nearly $2 per share in cash on hand -- which represents 13.5% of the company's market value -- and a good balance between debt and equity. The company is changing hands at just 10.7 times forward earnings and 1.6 times book value.
To reduce interest rate sensitivity, the firm maintains its debt as fixed rate and matched funded (think of this as matching assets with liabilities in order to lock in guaranteed spreads). Also, higher rates could actually help the firm acquire new properties at more favorable prices, as relatively thin margins for the large banks would increase their desire to monetize their vast real estate holdings.
I first recommended American Financial to subscribers of the dividend-oriented Motley Fool Income Investor in February. The shares have fallen along with the overall REIT sector since then, as investors fear extreme valuations and rising interest rates will hurt these companies. However, neither of those concerns are valid here, and this has given mom a chance to snatch up shares of a quality company at a very favorable price.
One caution: The stock is approaching the one-year anniversary of its initial public offering (IPO). Insider and institutional selling often increases at this time -- which often has little to do with the performance of the company -- and that could add some volatility to what has already been a volatile sector lately.
However, if Mom can ride out short-term fluctuations and focus on the long haul -- which is what she does everyday -- she should finally see some compensation for all her hard work. In other words, Mom can take this real estate owner to the bank.
Mathew Emmert tries to make sure that his mom gets more than love and cardboard for Mother's Day. He owns shares of American Financial, and is the author of the Fool's dividend-oriented investment newsletter, Motley Fool Income Investor. Consider afree trialwith no strings attached.
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