APTS: This 8% Yielder Just Slashed Its Dividend

It’s not that common that I review a stock immediately after it has cut its dividend. But I’ve had a number of requests for this one, and it’s an interesting situation.

Preferred Apartment Communities (NYSE: APTS) owns 123 multifamily housing, student housing, office, and retail spaces in 15 states.

Its properties include…

  • The Overlook at Crosstown Walk, a 180-apartment community in Tampa, Florida
  • Independence Square, a 140,000-square-foot retail plaza in Dallas, Texas
  • Stadium Village, a 792-bed student housing apartment building in Kennesaw, Georgia.

In its first-quarter earnings announcement, Preferred Apartment Communities said it is reducing its quarterly dividend to $0.175 per share from $0.2625.

This is the first time Preferred Apartment Communities has cut its dividend since it began paying one in 2011. In fact, it had raised the dividend every year since then and often did so multiple times per year.

But in the age of COVID-19, rents aren’t getting paid.

The good news is Preferred Apartment Communities’ grocery store tenants (which anchor some of its properties) had all paid their April rent as of May 11, when the company reported results.

However, only 66.7% of other retail tenants wrote a rent check in April, down from 96% in March and 99% in January and February.

(Just last week, Contributing Analyst Jody Chudley explained what the future might look like for retail post-pandemic. Click here to see his analysis.)

All other tenant categories showed rent payment levels over 90%.

The current economic and health crisis will likely result in lower funds from operations (FFO), which is the measure of cash flow used by real estate investment trusts like Preferred Apartment Communities.

The company’s FFO had been steadily climbing, but now it is projected to drop by 22% in 2020.

Loan Loss Previsions

Last year, Preferred Apartment Communities generated $61.8 million in FFO while paying out $45.4 million in dividends for a payout ratio of 74%.

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