NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mid-America Apartment Communities (NYSE: MAA) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, notable return on equity and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated. Highlights from the ratings report include:
- MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC increased its bottom line by earning $0.92 versus $0.54 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.43 versus $0.92).
- The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income increased by 170.1% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $8.84 million to $23.89 million.
- Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 17.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 14.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
- The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry and the overall market, MID-AMERICA APT CMNTYS INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
- After a year of stock price fluctuations, the net result is that MAA's price has not changed very much. Although its weak earnings growth may have played a role in this flat result, don't lose sight of the fact that the performance of the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, was essentially similar. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
-- Written by a member of TheStreet RatingsStaff