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Cole Is on the Big Board Now, With a Sweet 6.5% Yield

Brad Thomas

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On Friday Cole Real Estate Investments rang the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Phoenix-based shopping-center real estate investment trust became the seventh REIT this year to list on the "big stage."

Like many REITs these days, Cole began as a nonlisted REIT. The company's CEO, Chris Cole, has now fulfilled his dream and strategic mission: to provide investors with planned and full-cycle liquidity.

Other REITs that have recently listed in a similar nonlisted to listed conversion include Chambers Street Group , Healthcare Trust of America and American Realty Capital Trust, now owned by Realty Income .

Upon listing today, Cole will be one of the largest publicly traded triple-net sector REITs, with more than $7.7 billion in gross assets. The company has a current total capitalization of around $8.59 billion and a market capitalization of $5.13 billion.

Cole's first day on the track was rather bumpy as many of Cole's peers, namely Realty Income and National Retail Properties , have been victimized by the broader dividend REIT selloff. Cole opened today at $10.90 per share, and by midday the shares had traded down to $10.23.

Not only is the market afraid of the rising interest rates that are affecting all income-driven stocks, it's also trying to figure out where Cole will be valued and how the advisory platform (part of the blended investment strategy) is valued.

Although a small fraction of Cole's overall income, the advisory (fee-based) model is new, and it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to it. W.P. Carey has a similar model that has been more widely accepted and that could alleviate some fear or concerns.

Cole's strategically orchestrated net lease mission has at last become reality as the 1,014 property portfolio should bring added "sleep well at night" stewardship to REIT-dom. Cole has a sound asset base with a variety of traditional single tenant properties (49% retail and 17% office) as well as a portfolio of shopping centers (18%) and other assets. With a highly focused and experienced management team, Cole is well-positioned to carve out market share in the sector and foster its goal of being the BlackRock or Pimco of Net Lease real estate.

Cole is paying a healthy 6.5% dividend yield, much higher than the industry peers, and I believe the stock is being valued at a very compelling price. Unlike traditional IPOs, Cole has a demonstrated track record so the earnings history indicates that the company is on stable ground and the prospects look very good for this potential "sleep well at night" REIT.

At the time of publication, Thomas held no shares of stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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