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How Should You Analyze REIT Stock GPT Group (ASX:GPT)?

Lacy Summers

GPT Group is a AU$9.8b mid-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Sydney, Australia. REIT shares give you ownership of the company than owns and manages various income-producing property, whether it be commercial, industrial or residential. The structure of GPT is unique and it has to adhere to different requirements compared to other non-REIT stocks. In this commentary, I’ll take you through some of the things I look at when assessing GPT.

See our latest analysis for GPT Group

A common financial term REIT investors should know is Funds from Operations, or FFO for short, which is a REIT’s main source of income from its portfolio of property, such as rent. FFO is a cleaner and more representative figure of how much GPT actually makes from its day-to-day operations, compared to net income, which can be affected by one-off activities or non-cash items such as depreciation. For GPT, its FFO of AU$536m makes up 113% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

ASX:GPT Historical Debt January 11th 19

GPT’s financial stability can be gauged by seeing how much its FFO generated each year can cover its total amount of debt. The higher the coverage, the less risky GPT is, broadly speaking, to have debt on its books. The metric I’ll be using, FFO-to-debt, also estimates the time it will take for the company to repay its debt with its FFO. With a ratio of 16%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take GPT 6.4 years to pay off using operating income alone. Given that long-term debt is a multi-year commitment this is not unusual, however, the longer it takes for a company to pay back debt, the higher the risk associated with that company.

Next, interest coverage ratio shows how many times GPT’s earnings can cover its annual interest payments. Usually the ratio is calculated using EBIT, but for REITs, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. This is similar to the above concept, but looks at the nearer-term obligations. With an interest coverage ratio of 5.16x, it’s safe to say GPT is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

I also use FFO to look at GPT’s valuation relative to other REITs in Australia by using the price-to-FFO metric. This is conceptually the same as the price-to-earnings (PE) ratio, but as previously mentioned, FFO is more suitable. In GPT’s case its P/FFO is 18.27x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is slightly overvalued.

Next Steps:

As a REIT, GPT Group offers some unique characteristics which could help diversify your portfolio. However, before you decide on whether or not to invest in GPT, I highly recommend taking a look at other aspects of the stock to consider:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for GPT’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for GPT’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is GPT worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether GPT is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.