Precious few companies are viewed as being less risky than the U.S. federal government. After all, the Treasury yield is considered the “risk-free” rate in most financial models.
But one could argue that triple-net retail REIT Realty Income (O, $49.48) is indeed less risky than Uncle Sam himself. Due to political wrangling, one could imagine the United States government missing a coupon payment on its bonds. But barring the actual end of days, it’s hard to see a scenario in which Realty Income would miss a dividend payment.
Realty Income has made 573 consecutive monthly dividend payments, and has actually raised its dividend for 82 consecutive quarters. Since the company’s 1994 initial public offering, it has its dividend at a 4.7% compound annualized rate.
Realty Income owns a portfolio of more than 5,100 properties leased to 249 tenants scattered across 49 states and Puerto Rico. Its properties tend to be in high-traffic areas and tend to be “Amazon-proof,” or as close to Amazon-proof as you can reasonably be these days. Its top three tenants are Walgreens (WBA), FedEx (FDX) and LA Fitness.
Realty Income is good for its stability, but investors also could get a very pleasant surprise in the coming years, as current prices don’t truly reflect the company’s opportunities thanks to recent tax reforms. As Brad Thomas, editor of Forbes Real Estate Investor, puts it, “Net lease REITs like Realty Income stand to do very well with tax reform, since a limitation on corporate interest deductions will induce more people to lease.”
When companies do a sale/leaseback transaction with a REIT like Realty Income, they remove real estate assets – and the debt that comes with them – from their balance sheets. With bond yields drifting higher, they have more incentive to do it.