Real estate is about to gain its own sector, the 11th in the Global Classification Standard, the leading global equity classification system. Real estate was previously part of the financial sector.
The move underscores the growing importance of the industry. "It's an acknowledgement that REITs are now mainstream," said Rich Moore, a REIT analyst at RBC Capital Markets, of the change.
Last month, the company replaced Time Warner Cable in the the S&P 500. That should continue to increase Digital Realty Trust's attractiveness. The company operates in a growing niche. It owns and operates a global network of data centers that house computer servers on which clients store information. As companies rely increasing on data to run their businesses and serve clients, they have needed locations for an increasing number of servers.
A recent report from Cisco said that "global IP traffic will continue to grow at a rate of 23% per year until at least 2019, and mobile and cloud data traffic will grow even faster."
On the same day Digital Realty joined the S&P 500, the company announced that it had agreed to acquire eight additional data centers in Europe. The acquisitions will cost about $874 million and span three cities: London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.
Digital Realty Trust has a proven track-record. The growing need for secure data storage has enabled the company to triple its dividend yield. Perhaps even more importantly, loyal shareholders have seen the average return eclipse 19% every year.
Shares of Digital Realty Trust have risen about 50% in the last year, and the company's market capitalization has surpassed $14 billion.
To be sure, stock purchases shouldn't depend solely on past performance.
But there is no reason to believe Digital Realty Trust's best days are in the past because it is part of a growing industry. The company should see dramatic increases.