Buy Dream Office Real Estate Investment Trst for Commercial Real Estate Exposure

While many investors focus their attention on residential real estate, buying single family homes or perhaps small multi-family complexes, oftentimes the big money is actually in commercial real estate. Unfortunately, it can be incredibly expensive for an average investor to build a commercial portfolio.

Fortunately, investors can buy shares of Dream Office Real Estate Investment Trst  (TSX:D.UN), one of the largest office space REITs in all of Canada. While you won’t directly own the properties, you’ll owns shares in a company whose sole focus is investing in real estate.

Across its entire portfolio, there are over 22 million square feet. It has 4.5 million square feet in eastern Canada, and in the Greater Toronto Area it has 9.3 million square feet. Finally, it has 8.4 million square feet in western Canada. In total it has 160 properties with a 91.4% occupancy.

A 91.4% occupancy rate has made investors very nervous, which is one of two reasons why the stock is trading at what I believe to be a very low discount. The other reason is because the company was forced to cut the dividend by 33% in February from $0.125 per share to $0.1867. Without the cut, it would have paid out $2.24 in dividends, but it only expected to earn $2.20 to $2.30 this year. Without the cut, it wouldn’t have been able to afford the dividend.

Fortunately for investors, the subsequent drop in the price of shares is actually positive for investors because they have an opportunity to acquire incredibly inexpensive shares of a company that has really high-quality assets.

Here’s why.

Dream Office believes that if investors were to value its real estate at market rates, the price of a share would be $32.78. Yet it trades under $19 per share. Therefore, if you were to buy the shares currently, you’d be buying them at nearly a 43% discount.

Management, recognizing that this discount exists, plans to start selling some of its assets to generate cash. Over the next three years it will sell upwards of $1.2 billion in what it views to be non-core assets. It recently announced that it had sold 16.67% of its interest in Scotia Plaza for $115 million.

What management plans to do with this money remains undetermined; however, there are a couple of strategies.

The first strategy would be to reduce its debt. When times were good, it borrowed significant amounts of money to buy a plethora of assets. But now it’s sitting on a 48% debt-to-asset ratio. By paying this debt down, the balance sheet will be much stronger.

The next strategy would be to reduce the total number of shares in circulation by committing resources to a buyback. Essentially, when the price of a share is worth considerably less than what it should be worth, management can buy back shares to increase earnings per share.

Here’s what investors should do: start buying up shares of this inexpensive stock. When management reduces the debt and increases the share buybacks, and when investors start to value the assets more generously, the stock price will appreciate significantly. And, along the way, investors can expect an 8.11% yield with a monthly distribution of $0.125 per share.

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Fool contributor Jacob Donnelly has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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