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Outfront Stock Is a Big Buying Opportunity Following Earnings Drop

Will Healy

Outfront Media (NYSE:OUT) plunged in Thursday trading following its second-quarter earnings report. The real estate investment trust (REIT) fell by almost 9.5% in Thursday trading as it missed earnings and revenue estimates. Nearly four and one-half years after it began trading, Outfront stock trades at over 32% below its original IPO price.

However, with a high dividend and profits that remain positive amid intense competition from online ads, Outfront still belongs on the watch lists of income-oriented investors.

Outfront Stock’s Big Misses

The company’s second-quarter funds from operations (FFO) came in at 55 cents per share, one cent per share below last year’s Q2 FFO. Wall Street had expected 58 cents per share. Revenues of $401.7 million also disappointed. Analysts had predicted $404.92 million for the quarter. Still, revenue grew 1.4% on a year-over-year basis.

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Unfortunately for holders of Outfront stock, its four-and-one-half year trading history has generally seen a steady decline. Debuting at $28 per share in March 2014, it trades at around $19 per share today. The stock has steadily sold off as better-targeted digital advertising has taken become more popular.

Watch the Outfront Stock Dividend

High dividend yields have mitigated those losses. The current annual dividend stands at $1.44 per share. The REIT status requires the distribution of at least 90% of net income in the form of dividends. Nonetheless, its dividend yield of about 7.6% stands at close to double the equity REIT average yield of 3.95%.

When looking at the numbers, this stock trades slightly above fair value. Analysts forecast average earnings growth of 3.85% per year over the next five years. If added with the dividend yield, this would give investors a return of about 11.5%.

If multiplied by the average price-to-earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio of 1.33, this amounts to about 15.3. The estimated forward price-to-earnings (PE) ratio stands at just over 18. Hence, I would not buy at these levels.

However, income-oriented investors should continue to watch Outfront stock. In today’s market, few investments offer a 7.6% cash return. Moreover, billboard advertising may shrink, but it will likely not disappear. People will continue to drive the streets and freeways of their respective hometowns and will continue to view outdoor ads.

Furthermore, with many of these billboards going digital, the ability to target ads increases somewhat.

Technology Can Bump Outfront Stock

In an ironic twist, Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG) is helping to bring self-driving cars to the market. The king of online ads could inadvertently give drivers more freedom to view outdoor ads (when not viewing their phones at least).

Furthermore, investors should not forget the value of Outfront’s vertical real estate. American Tower (NYSE:AMT) or Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI), the two largest renters of so-called “vertical real estate,” make it possible for wireless carriers to carry signals.

Due to the advent of 5G, telecom companies need lower-level structures on which to mount antenna equipment. Many of Outfront’s billboards could be well-suited for helping telcos in this manner.

5G will also bolster smart billboards, which could become a new source of revenue. For example, a billboard could advertise a restaurant as people drive into town during the day. When night falls, and people look for hotels, the billboard could instantly switch to advertising lodging. This allows Outfront to tailor the use of its space to changing needs.

Final Thoughts on Outfront Stock

Despite earnings and revenue numbers that came in below expectations, Outfront belongs on the watch list of dividend investors.

Shares of the REIT dived on the disappointing numbers that failed to meet Wall Street estimates. With the strength and precision of online advertising, static outdoor ads have fallen out of favor. As a result, Outfront has steadily lost value since its 2014 IPO.

Nonetheless, the company continues to earn a profit. While older forms of media such as print ads or billboards have declined, they have not gone entirely away. Moreover, the rise of 5G will likely serve as a new revenue source. 5G will make outdoor ads smarter. It will also allow telcos could rent space on billboards to mount equipment.

Furthermore, analysts predict modest profit growth for Outfront, and the REIT status will guarantee dividends for its investors. This stock appears to be priced slightly above fair value for now. However, if income-oriented investors can purchase this at a low valuation, they should consider investing in Outfront stock.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.

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