2 for Tuesday: Glenn's a Glimcher Glutton

Loading up on this mall owner is the smart retail play this Christmas.
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The holiday shopping season always gets people talking about retail stocks. But I'm here to say you can do better.

How? Take a look at a stock called

Glimcher Realty Trust

(GRT)

, which owns and operates the shopping malls that house your favorite retail stores. With Glimcher, you can cash in on the retail trade while reducing your exposure to plunging sales and massive markdowns, which look like retail's investing theme this Christmas. In fact, with interest rates sliding, dividend-rich Glimcher is a good income play as well as a strong growth bet.

Glimcher is what's known as a real estate investment trust, which means it must pay out nearly all its after-tax profits as dividends.

Being a REIT, Glimcher makes its money not by selling fashions to fickle consumers, but by renting out its stores to big-name retailers such as

Sears

(S) - Get Report

,

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get Report

,

Dillard's

(DDS) - Get Report

,

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

and

Burlington Coat Factory

(BCF)

.

Of course, all those companies are suffering to one degree or another as the economy suffers through recession. If retailers close stores, you may be thinking, Glimcher will be left holding the bag.

While that's true, Glimcher's among the best-insulated REITs out there. After all, it's not overly dependent on any one tenant or geographic location. And despite the economy's troubles, demand for floor space has remained robust: The company's third-quarter average base rent rose 3% to $21.94 a square foot, while its occupancy rate inched up to 85.3% from 84.1% a year ago. That makes sense, considering the company's blue-chip client list.

The company's properties generate strong cash flow, which allows Glimcher to pay out $1.92 in annual dividends. That means that at recent levels, you get a 10.57% yield just for owning the stock, appreciation aside. Forget about bonds and CDs!

Glimcher's impressive in other ways, too. The company has stood by its financial forecasts, saying it expects to report funds from operations of $2.88 to $2.95 a share this year. That number should rise more than 4% next year, to $3.08.

Meanwhile, management has been buying the stock, always a good sign. CFO William Cornely has bought more than 12,000 shares at an average price of $14.03 since the summer. Trading at about $18, Glimcher's had a nice run from the September lows but could easily do better, I think.

I can't help but think that this stock has 20% upside from here. Forget the malls this holiday season -- get yourself some Glimcher!

In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Glenn Curtis doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Curtis welcomes your feedback and invites you to send it to

Glenn Curtis.