One Metric To Rule Them All: EastGroup Properties Inc (NYSE:EGP)

EastGroup Properties Inc is a US$3.3b mid-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Ridgeland, United States. REITs are basically a portfolio of income-producing real estate investments, which are owned and operated by management of that trust company. They have to meet certain requirements in order to become a REIT, meaning they should be analyzed a different way. I’ll take you through some of the key metrics you should use in order to properly assess EGP.

Check out our latest analysis for EastGroup Properties

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 EGP’s daily operations. For EGP, its FFO of US$155m makes up 80% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

NYSE:EGP Historical Debt October 18th 18
NYSE:EGP Historical Debt October 18th 18

In order to understand whether EGP has a healthy balance sheet, we have to look at a metric called FFO-to-total debt. This tells us how long it will take EGP to pay off its debt using its income from its main business activities, and gives us an insight into EGP’s ability to service its borrowings. With a ratio of 14%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take EGP 7.29 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 EGP’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 4.46x, it’s safe to say EGP is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

In terms of valuing EGP, 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. In EGP’s case its P/FFO is 21.45x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is overvalued.

Next Steps:

EastGroup Properties can bring diversification into your portfolio due to its unique REIT characteristics. Before you make a decision on the stock today, keep in mind I’ve only covered one metric in this article, the FFO, which is by no means comprehensive. I’d strongly recommend continuing your research on the following areas I believe are key fundamentals for EGP:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for EGP’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for EGP’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is EGP 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 EGP 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.