One Metric To Rule Them All: Assura Plc (LON:AGR)

Assura Plc is a UK£1.34b small-cap real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Warrington, United Kingdom. REIT shares give you ownership of the company than owns and manages various income-producing property, whether it be commercial, industrial or residential. The structure of AGR is unique and it has to adhere to different requirements compared to other non-REIT stocks. I’ll take you through some of the key metrics you should use in order to properly assess AGR.

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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 AGR’s daily operations. For AGR, its FFO of UK£49.90m makes up 62.22% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

LSE:AGR Historical Debt June 20th 18
LSE:AGR Historical Debt June 20th 18

Robust financial health can be measured using a common metric in the REIT investing world, FFO-to-debt. The calculation roughly estimates how long it will take for AGR to repay debt on its balance sheet, which gives us insight into how much risk is associated with having that level of debt on its books. With a ratio of 10.20%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as aggressive risk. This would take AGR 9.8 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.

Next, interest coverage ratio shows how many times AGR’s earnings can cover its annual interest payments. Usually the ratio is calculated using EBIT, but for REITs, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. This is similar to the above concept, but looks at the nearer-term obligations. With an interest coverage ratio of 2.17x, AGR is not generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings. Typically, a ratio of greater than 3x is seen as safe.

In terms of valuing AGR, 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. AGR’s price-to-FFO is 27.27x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is overvalued.

Next Steps:

In this article, I’ve taken a look at Funds from Operations using various metrics, but it is certainly not sufficient to derive an investment decision based on this value alone. Assura can bring about diversification for your portfolio, but before you decide to invest, take a look at the other aspects you must consider before investing:
  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for AGR’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for AGR’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is AGR 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 AGR 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.