One Metric To Rule Them All: Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG)

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Simon Property Group, Inc. is a US$58b large-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Indianapolis, 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 SPG.

View our latest analysis for Simon Property Group

A common financial term REIT investors should know is Funds from Operations, or FFO for short, which is a REIT’s main source of income from its portfolio of property, such as rent. FFO is a cleaner and more representative figure of how much SPG actually makes from its day-to-day operations, compared to net income, which can be affected by one-off activities or non-cash items such as depreciation. For SPG, its FFO of US$3.8b makes up 81% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

NYSE:SPG Historical Debt, June 26th 2019
NYSE:SPG Historical Debt, June 26th 2019

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 SPG 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 16%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take SPG 6.21 years to pay off using operating income alone. Given that long-term debt is a multi-year commitment this is not unusual, however, the longer it takes for a company to pay back debt, the higher the risk associated with that company.

I also look at SPG’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 4.6x, it’s safe to say SPG is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

In terms of valuing SPG, 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 SPG’s case its P/FFO is 15.32x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is fairly valued.

Next Steps:

Simon Property Group 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 SPG:

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

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.