Investing In Property Through Leasinvest Real Estate SCA (EBR:LEAS)

Want to participate in a short research study? Help shape the future of investing tools and you could win a $250 gift card!

Leasinvest Real Estate SCA is a €563m small-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Antwerp, Belgium. REITs own and operate income-generating property and adhere to a different set of regulations. This impacts how LEAS’s business operates and also how we should analyse its stock. In this commentary, I’ll take you through some of the things I look at when assessing LEAS.

View our latest analysis for Leasinvest Real Estate

REIT investors should be familiar with the term Fund from Operations (FFO) – a REIT’s main source of cash flow from its day-to-day business activities. FFO is a higher quality measure of earnings because it takes out the impact of non-recurring sales and non-cash items such as depreciation. These items can distort the bottom line and not necessarily reflective of LEAS’s daily operations. For LEAS, its FFO of €41m makes up 93% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

ENXTBR:LEAS Historical Debt February 6th 19
ENXTBR:LEAS Historical Debt February 6th 19

LEAS’s financial stability can be gauged by seeing how much its FFO generated each year can cover its total amount of debt. The higher the coverage, the less risky LEAS is, broadly speaking, to have debt on its books. The metric I’ll be using, FFO-to-debt, also estimates the time it will take for the company to repay its debt with its FFO. With a ratio of 7.2%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as aggressive risk. This would take LEAS 13.9 years to pay off using just operating income, which is a long time, and risk increases with time. But realistically, companies have many levers to pull in order to pay back their debt, beyond operating income alone.

I also look at LEAS’s interest coverage ratio, which demonstrates how many times its earnings can cover its yearly interest expense. This is similar to the concept above, but looks at the upcoming obligations. The ratio is typically calculated using EBIT, but for a REIT stock, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. With an interest coverage ratio of 4.94x, it’s safe to say LEAS is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

In terms of valuing LEAS, FFO can also be used as a form of relative valuation. Instead of the P/E ratio, P/FFO is used instead, which is very common for REIT stocks. LEAS’s price-to-FFO is 13.65x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is slightly undervalued.

Next Steps:

As a REIT, Leasinvest Real Estate offers some unique characteristics which could help diversify your portfolio. However, before you decide on whether or not to invest in LEAS, I highly recommend taking a look at other aspects of the stock to consider:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for LEAS’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for LEAS’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is LEAS worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether LEAS is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.