You May Have Been Looking At Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (NYSE:WRE) All Wrong

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Washington Real Estate Investment Trust is a US$2.1b mid-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Washington, United States. REITs own and operate income-generating property and adhere to a different set of regulations. This impacts how WRE’s business operates and also how we should analyse its stock. I’ll take you through some of the key metrics you should use in order to properly assess WRE.

See our latest analysis for Washington Real Estate Investment Trust

Funds from Operations (FFO) is a higher quality measure of WRE’s earnings compared to net income. This term is very common in the REIT investing world as it provides a cleaner look at its cash flow from daily operations by excluding impact of one-off activities or non-cash items such as depreciation. For WRE, its FFO of US$131m makes up 62% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

NYSE:WRE Historical Debt February 6th 19
NYSE:WRE Historical Debt February 6th 19

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 WRE 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 11%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as aggressive risk. This would take WRE 8.85 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 WRE’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 2.75x, WRE 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 WRE, 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. WRE’s price-to-FFO is 15.74x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is fairly valued.

Next Steps:

As a REIT, Washington Real Estate Investment Trust offers some unique characteristics which could help diversify your portfolio. However, before you decide on whether or not to invest in WRE, 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 WRE’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for WRE’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is WRE 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 WRE 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.