Sick of stocks? Try REITs!

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are securities that invest in property or mortgages and trade on the major exchanges just like stocks. They can be attractive opportunities for investors, offering regular income streams, diversification, and long-term capital appreciation. In addition, REITs are highly liquid, often deliver generous dividends, and can receive favorable considerations at tax time.

However, there are many REITs on the market, and some better than others. How do you choose?

I've scanned the listings and located two top contenders. Both of these high-yield REITs deserve your attention and can add that extra ballast to your income portfolio.

Communications Sales & Leasing (CSAL) : Investing in Telecom Assets

Spun off by telecom services provider Windstream Holdings, Communications Sales & Leasing owns telecom assets such as fiber, tower, ground leases, data centers, and consumer broadband.

CS&L currently owns 3.9 million fiber strand miles, 85 wireless towers, and other communications properties throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

In May, the REIT reported quarterly earnings results that beat Wall Street expectations. And analysts are currently projecting nearly 50% year-over-year growth in sales and earnings-per-share (EPS) for full-year 2016.

The stock is up by more than 42% already this year. Analysts covering CS&L have a "Buy" rating and expect an average of another 13% in upside in the next 12 months.

Plus, this REIT has a 9%-plus forward annual dividend yield, which is higher than its industrial REIT peers including Monmouth Real Estate (7.53%), STAG Industrial (6.25%), Prologis (3.43%), and Terreno Realty (3%). This would give you the opportunity to make as much as a 20% total return on owning CSAL shares.

At an EV/EBITDA valuation of less than 9 times, CSAL is definitely cheaper than industrial REITs like Extra Space Storage (31.9 times), Terreno Realty (26.9 times), Rexford Industrial Realty (26.5 times), and Prologis (23.4 times), to name a few. Don't miss this one.

New Residential Investment (NRZ - Get Report) : One of the Top Three REITs

New Residential Investment is a REIT concentrating mostly on residential real estate investments.

Within its investing portfolio are excess mortgage servicing rights (MSRs). As banks face increasing pressure to reduce their MSR exposure, players like New Residential Investment can win big through co-investment opportunities in the MSR market.

Also on this REIT's books are servicer advances -- typically first in line to be repaid and thus very high quality in credit -- as well as non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities. These securities offer attractive risk-adjusted yields, with the potential for upside as the U.S. economy and housing market continue to strengthen.

The potential total return in this stock is in excess of 20%, helped by its 14.4% dividend yield. This beefy yield places it in the top three of the more than two-dozen residential REITs on the market.

Analysts expect the stock to hit $15 in next 12 months, about a 9% upside from today's price. Add the 13% yield and you're looking at a comfortable 22% total return.


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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.