Weingarten Realty Boasts Solid Growth

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Weingarten Realty Investors ( WRI) has continued to demonstrate solid operating performance.

The company recently posted second-quarter recurring Funds from Operations (or FFO) of $51.4 million, up almost 7% from the same period one year ago.

The company attributed the increase primarily to increases in net operating income (or NOI) from its existing portfolio, reduced interest expense from favorable debt refinancings and reduced preferred share dividends due to redemptions.

In reporting its earnings, the company raised its full-year recurring FFO-per-share guidance to a range of $1.89 to $1.93, from an earlier estimate of $1.84 to $1.90, which it affirmed April 30 with its first-quarter earnings release.

For the second quarter, net income attributable to common shareholders was $45.4 million, or 37 cents per share, compared to $22.6 million, or 19 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Same-property NOI for the quarter increased by 5.0% year over year. Occupancy increased to 94.2% from 93.7% in the previous quarter and 93.4% a year earlier.

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Weingarten became a publicly held company in August 1985 and was listed as "WRI" on the New York Stock Exchange. The Houston-based REIT has focused on investing in shopping centers, and today the company owns around 281 properties with over 53 million square feet in 21 states.

Weingarten has a market capitalization of around $3.81 billion, and shares are trading at $31.23 a share. The current dividend yield is 3.91%, and the company has successfully managed to increase its annual dividend since it fell from a high of $2.10 a share in 2008 to a low of $1.04 in 2010.

As illustrated by the F.A.S.T. Graph below, Weingarten's annuals dividends paid (shaded aqua blue area) has begun to climb back (estimated dividend of $1.22 a share for 2013). Based on 2013E FFO of $1.92 a share, Weingarten is trading at a multiple of 16.2, which is below the its group median of 16.9.

My price target of $40 a share is based on a premium to a NAV/share estimate of $36.00. I believe a premium is warranted by the company's low leverage, above-average growth opportunities and focus on retail assets with the disposition of industrial assets (last year).

Courtesy of F.A.S.T. Graphs

For more information, check out my newsletter, The Intelligent REIT Investor.

At the time of publication, Thomas had no positions in stocks mentioned.

Note: This article is intended to provide information to interested parties. As I have no knowledge of individual investor circumstances, goals, and/or portfolio concentration or diversification, readers are expected to complete their own due diligence before purchasing any stocks mentioned or recommended.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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