The company announced on June 21 that it had also acquired a 269,000-square-foot data center in Dallas, Texas. The one-year chart below of DLR underscores how well its shares, which currently yield around 4%, have performed.
Since its Sept. 22, 2011 low of $51.75, it has soared as high as $76.04. It closed Tuesday at $72.84. DLR has grown and skillfully managed its business to the point where it reported a profit margin (trailing 12 months) of 15% and an operating margin of 30% as of March 31, 2012. As of the same date, its quarterly earnings growth (year over year) was an impressive 28%. Quarterly revenue growth increased by nearly 13% in comparison to last year's revenue numbers. There are two obvious red flags. First is the payout ratio, which is more than 200%. Second is the debt the company has incurred. After the latest offering, it will total nearly $4 billion. There aren't any directly comparable publicly traded REITs. But you could look at the numbers of office REIT Liberty Property Trust ( LRY) for an indirect comparison. Liberty Property pays a 5.3% yield from its funds-from-operation (FFO). It has a payout ratio of 114% as of the first quarter 2012. It also reported total debt as of that quarter of $2.37 billion. Its forward estimated price-to-earnings ratio is 13.29, vs. DLR's 14.54. When you look at a one-year chart of shares of LRY and DLR, you'll see they've pretty much moved in tandem.
My crystal ball is quite foggy on the near-term future for REITS like DLR. If the European financial malaise continues to cause some deep hiccups in the U.S. stock market, you may have a chance to pick up shares at lower prices. Back on May 21, DLR traded as low as $67.84. There's a decent chance of seeing that price or lower before too long. At the time of publication, Courtenay had no positions in any securities mentioned.This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.