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One Metric To Rule Them All: Duke Realty Corporation (NYSE:DRE)

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Duke Realty Corporation is a US$11b large-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Indianapolis, 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. Below, I'll look at a few important metrics to keep in mind as part of your research on DRE.

See our latest analysis for Duke Realty

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 DRE’s daily operations. For DRE, its FFO of US$488m makes up 81% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

NYSE:DRE Historical Debt, June 27th 2019

DRE'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 DRE 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 18%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take DRE 5.46 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.

I also look at DRE's interest coverage ratio, which demonstrates how many times its earnings can cover its yearly interest expense. This is similar to the concept above, but looks at the upcoming obligations. The ratio is typically calculated using EBIT, but for a REIT stock, it's better to use FFO divided by net interest. With an interest coverage ratio of 5.74x, it’s safe to say DRE is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

In terms of valuing DRE, 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. In DRE’s case its P/FFO is 22.88x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is overvalued.

Next Steps:

Duke Realty can bring diversification into your portfolio due to its unique REIT characteristics. Before you make a decision on the stock today, keep in mind I've only covered one metric in this article, the FFO, which is by no means comprehensive. I'd strongly recommend continuing your research on the following areas I believe are key fundamentals for DRE:

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