Four REITs That Just Raised Dividends

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Investors who purchase real estate investment trusts (REITs) often do so for the income that most REITs produce in the form of monthly or quarterly dividends. When REITs announce dividend increases, investors either celebrate a raise in annual income or a chance to reinvest in an increased number of shares of the stock.

In addition to these increases, dividend raises signify a REIT's belief in its ability to continue generating strong revenue and earnings that allow it to continue providing shareholders with steady income. Often the dividend increase announcements are made simultaneously with the earnings report, or shortly before the report is released. Dividend increase announcements made right before earnings announcements often portend a strong report. Dividend increases frequently lead to share price appreciation as well. This gives REIT investors two sources of gains.

Over the past few weeks, several REITs have hiked the monthly or quarterly dividends paid. Take a look at four of them that have announced dividend increases, along with other positive news. 

Whitestone REIT WSR is a Houston, Texas-based retail REIT that owns, operates and develops open-air retail centers in fast-growing Sun Belt markets. Whitestone owns 50 properties in Texas and Arizona. Whitestone's tenants are mostly service-oriented businesses, such as restaurants, health and fitness centers, financial services and grocery stores. At the end of the third quarter of 2023, Whitestone had a 92.7% occupancy rate.

On Feb. 21, Whitestone REIT announced it had acquired the 107,000-square-foot grocery-anchored Garden Oaks Shopping Center, in Houston. The center is 96% occupied.

On March 5, Whitestone announced a 3% increase in its monthly dividend from $0.04 per share to $0.04125 per share. The new annual dividend of $0.495 per share yields 4.02%. The dividend will be paid on April 11 to shareholders as of April 2. 

Whitestone will announce its fourth-quarter 2023 operating results after the market closes on March 6.

EPR Properties EPR is a Kansas City, Missouri-based diversified experiential REIT that owns and operates 359 locations, including movie theater chains, amusement parks, ski resorts, fitness centers and other recreational venues with 200 tenants across 44 states. It also owns 71 early childhood education centers and nine private schools.

On Feb. 28, EPR Properties reported its fourth-quarter operating results. Funds from operations (FFO) of $1.18 per share beat the consensus estimate of $1.16 per share and revenue of $171.98 million also beat the consensus estimate of $150.41 million.

Simultaneously, EPR Properties announced an increase in its monthly dividend from $0.275 to $0.285 per share, payable on March 15 to shareholders of record on Feb. 29. The annual dividend of $3.30 per share yields 7.85%.

Essex Property Trust Inc. ESS is a San Mateo, California-based residential REIT that acquires, develops and manages multifamily apartment communities on the West Coast of the U.S. As of March 1, its portfolio includes 252 apartment communities, with approximately 62,000 apartments in eight California and Washington state markets.

Essex was founded in 1971 and had its initial public offering IPO in 1994 at $19.50 per share. It's been a member of the S&P 500 since 2014 and is an S&P Dividend Aristocrat with 30 years of increasing cash dividends.

On Feb. 6, Essex Property Trust released its fourth-quarter operating results. FFO of $3.83 per share beat the estimate of $3.81 as well as fourth-quarter 2022 FFO of $3.77 per share. Revenue of $418.95 million was just below the estimate of  $419.69 million but surpassed the fourth-quarter 2022 revenue of $412.36 million.

On Feb. 22, Essex Property Trust announced its board approved a 6.1% increase in its annual cash dividend, the 30th consecutive annual dividend increase. The first quarter dividend of $2.45 per share is payable on April 12 to shareholders of record as of March 29. The annualized dividend of $9.80 per share presently yields 4%.

On Feb. 28, Mizuho analyst Vikram Malhorta upgraded Essex Property Trust from Neutral to Buy, while lowering the price target from $255 to $250. Two days earlier, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Kramer maintained Essex Property Trust with an Equal-Weight rating and raised the price target from $227 to $230.

Essex has bounced from $225.40 on Feb. 26 to a recent price of $245.08.

Centerspace CSR is a Minot, North Dakota-based residential REIT with a focus on the ownership, management, acquisition and redevelopment of apartment buildings. Its portfolio covers 72 apartment complexes with 13,088 apartments across the Midwestern and Mountain states of Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. As of Sept. 2023, Centerspace had an occupancy rate of 94.4%.

On Feb. 20, Centerspace, also known as Investors Real Estate Trust REIT, announced its fourth-quarter operating results. FFO of $1.22 beat the consensus estimate of $1.11 and revenue of $64.07 million also beat the consensus estimate of $63.99 million.

At the same time, Centerspace announced its board approved a quarterly dividend of $0.75 per share, payable on April 8 to common shareholders at the close of business on March 28. The dividend is an increase from $0.73 per share. The annualized dividend of $3 yields 5.25%.

Centerspace has gained 9.1% since touching a low of $2.26 on Feb. 13.

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