This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

REITs on the Street

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Real estate investment trusts have been around since 1960 and the dividend-centric asset class has outperformed stocks and bonds in both the U.S. and global markets during the modern REIT era (beginning in 1991).

Even over the past decade -- a difficult period marked by two recessions, two asset bubbles, a financial crisis, and three periods of rising inflation -- REITs have enhanced the return of a stock and bond portfolio, while reducing overall risk.

When it comes to REIT investing, I consider dividends to be "the most important thing" since, by law; REITs are "forced" to payout at least 90% of taxable income (in the form of dividends). According to Michael C. Jensen, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, when a company generates an excessive surplus of free cash flow and it doesn't find profitable investment opportunities, management tends to abuse the cash flow resulting in an increase in costs.

As Jensen wrote (source: Google Scholar has been cited 13,513 times in other academic articles):

Managers with substantial free cash flow can increase dividends or repurchase stock and thereby pay out current cash that would otherwise be invested in low-return projects or wasted. This leaves managers with control over the use of future free cash flows, but they can promise to pay out future cash flows by announcing a "permanent" increase in the dividend. Such promises are weak because dividends can be reduced in the future. The fact that capital markets punish dividend cuts with large stock price reductions is consistent with the agency of free cash flow.

Ben Graham, another highly regarded value investor, summed up the efficiency of dividends in his 1949 classic, "The Intelligent Investor": Paying out a dividend does not guarantee great results, but it does improve the return of the typical stock by yanking at least some cash out of the manager's hands before they squander it or squirrel it away.

In Jensen's prolific research article, he explained his free cash flow hypothesis whereby he argued that a company with too much free cash flow would result in internal insufficiency and waste of corporate resources, thus leading to agency costs as a burden of stockholder wealth. Now, keep in mind, REITs don't have that problem since they are forced to pay out 90% of cash flow in the form of dividends. (That's why I call them "sleep well at night" stocks).

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,960.57 -123.23 -0.72%
S&P 500 1,978.34 -9.64 -0.48%
NASDAQ 4,449.5640 -22.5440 -0.50%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs