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You May Have Been Looking At EPR Properties (NYSE:EPR) All Wrong

Kevin Zeng

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EPR Properties is a US$5.5b mid-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Kansas City, United States. REITs are basically a portfolio of income-producing real estate investments, which are owned and operated by management of that trust company. They have to meet certain requirements in order to become a REIT, meaning they should be analyzed a different way. I’ll take you through some of the key metrics you should use in order to properly assess EPR.

View our latest analysis for EPR Properties

Funds from Operations (FFO) is a higher quality measure of EPR’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 EPR, its FFO of US$391m makes up 72% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

NYSE:EPR Historical Debt February 14th 19

In order to understand whether EPR has a healthy balance sheet, we have to look at a metric called FFO-to-total debt. This tells us how long it will take EPR to pay off its debt using its income from its main business activities, and gives us an insight into EPR’s ability to service its borrowings. With a ratio of 13%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take EPR 7.74 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.

Next, interest coverage ratio shows how many times EPR’s earnings can cover its annual interest payments. Usually the ratio is calculated using EBIT, but for REITs, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. This is similar to the above concept, but looks at the nearer-term obligations. With an interest coverage ratio of 2.98x, EPR is not generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings. Typically, a ratio of greater than 3x is seen as safe.

I also use FFO to look at EPR’s valuation relative to other REITs in United States by using the price-to-FFO metric. This is conceptually the same as the price-to-earnings (PE) ratio, but as previously mentioned, FFO is more suitable. In EPR’s case its P/FFO is 14.13x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is slightly undervalued.

Next Steps:

In this article, I’ve taken a look at Funds from Operations using various metrics, but it is certainly not sufficient to derive an investment decision based on this value alone. EPR Properties can bring about diversification for your portfolio, but before you decide to invest, take a look at the other aspects you must consider before investing:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for EPR’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for EPR’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is EPR 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 EPR 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.