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You May Have Been Looking At Mid-America Apartment Communities, Inc. (NYSE:MAA) All Wrong

Simply Wall St

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Mid-America Apartment Communities, Inc. is a US$14b large-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Germantown, 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 MAA.

View our latest analysis for Mid-America Apartment Communities

REIT investors should be familiar with the term Fund from Operations (FFO) – a REIT’s main source of cash flow from its day-to-day business activities. FFO is a higher quality measure of earnings because it takes out the impact of non-recurring sales and non-cash items such as depreciation. These items can distort the bottom line and not necessarily reflective of MAA’s daily operations. For MAA, its FFO of US$734m makes up 79% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

NYSE:MAA Historical Debt, July 8th 2019

MAA's financial stability can be gauged by seeing how much its FFO generated each year can cover its total amount of debt. The higher the coverage, the less risky MAA is, broadly speaking, to have debt on its books. The metric I'll be using, FFO-to-debt, also estimates the time it will take for the company to repay its debt with its FFO. With a ratio of 16%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take MAA 6.17 years to pay off using operating income alone. Given that long-term debt is a multi-year commitment this is not unusual, however, the longer it takes for a company to pay back debt, the higher the risk associated with that company.

Next, interest coverage ratio shows how many times MAA’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 4.23x, it’s safe to say MAA is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

In terms of valuing MAA, FFO can also be used as a form of relative valuation. Instead of the P/E ratio, P/FFO is used instead, which is very common for REIT stocks. MAA's price-to-FFO is 19.5x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is slightly overvalued.

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. Mid-America Apartment Communities 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 MAA’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for MAA’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is MAA 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 MAA 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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.