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One Metric To Rule Them All: Northstar Realty Europe Corp. (NYSE:NRE)

Alexis Guardo

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Northstar Realty Europe Corp. is a US$840m small-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in New York, United States. REITs own and operate income-generating property and adhere to a different set of regulations. This impacts how NRE’s business operates and also how we should analyse its stock. In this commentary, I’ll take you through some of the things I look at when assessing NRE.

View our latest analysis for Northstar Realty Europe

A common financial term REIT investors should know is Funds from Operations, or FFO for short, which is a REIT’s main source of income from its portfolio of property, such as rent. FFO is a cleaner and more representative figure of how much NRE actually makes from its day-to-day operations, compared to net income, which can be affected by one-off activities or non-cash items such as depreciation. For NRE, its FFO of US$25m makes up 33% of its gross profit, which means over a third of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

NYSE:NRE Historical Debt February 8th 19

In order to understand whether NRE 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 NRE to pay off its debt using its income from its main business activities, and gives us an insight into NRE’s ability to service its borrowings. With a ratio of 2.1%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as aggressive risk. This would take NRE 48.61 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 NRE’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 0.97x, NRE is not generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings. Typically, a ratio of greater than 3x is seen as safe.

In terms of valuing NRE, 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. NRE’s price-to-FFO is 33.26x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is overvalued.

Next Steps:

As a REIT, Northstar Realty Europe offers some unique characteristics which could help diversify your portfolio. However, before you decide on whether or not to invest in NRE, I highly recommend taking a look at other aspects of the stock to consider:

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