☑️ Stock prices of European REITs have been hit hard
☑️ Compelling risk/reward ratios can be found
☑️ Three interesting European REITs are presented
☑️ Investors need to allow 2-3 years to reap rewards
Three Great European REITs
Note the price-to-book (PB ratio), in particular of the two German REITs: 0.21 for Aroundtown, and 0.46 for Vonovia. These are historic low PB ratios, for both.
Are European REITs A Good Investment?
In general, I like the high predictability, yields, and stability of real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are the three reasons why my All-Weather Portfolio consists of approx. 25% of the highest-quality REITs.
The U.S. has thousands of REITs to choose from, but when it comes to European REITs, it’s a different story. Each of the major countries in the E.U. has a handful of large blue-chip REITs, but they don’t come in the dozens.
In this article, I am presenting the three European REITs I like (disclaimer: I own two of the three). In particular, after the recent steep drop in price, I like all of them at these low price levels.
Vonovia – EU’s Largest Residential REIT
Vonovia ($VNA, $VNNVF, ISIN: DE000A1ML7J1), is Europe’s leading private real estate company. Technically, it is not a REIT, but it simply put can be seen as one, because it focuses solely on real estate. It specializes in residential properties, of which it owns +560,000 apartments in the most attractive cities of Germany, Sweden, and Austria.
It also is the property manager of +72,500 apartments. The current value of all the real estate Vonovia owns is currently approx. 102 Bio USD.
Fun Fact #1: Vonovia is the title sponsor of the German soccer club VfL Bochum 1848, whereas the other European REIT I like, Aroundtown, is a title sponsor of another Bundesliga soccer club, see below!
Fun Fact #2: It actually is the property manager of my own two-bedroom rental apartment that I bought in 2013 for 280,000€ (80 sqm).
Vonovia invests a lot in ESG, in particular in maintenance, modernization, and senior-friendly property conversions. The company is increasingly building new apartments through post-compaction and additions.
It was one of the first European REITs to list on the STOXX50, and originally, it was called Deutsche Annington, and later, when it merged with Terra Firma, it became the largest German property company in 2006, when it also took over Viterra AG. It is called Vonovia since 2015.
I believe Vonovia at 26€ or less, offers a very good risk/reward ratio here.
How Big Is Vonovia?
Well, Vonovia is massive. It’s a real juggernaut. Let’s take a look at the balance sheet:
That’s 106 Bio Euros in Total Assets, or 113 Bio USD. Not small indeed.
Let’s compare Vonovia’s numbers with the largest REITs worldwide:
|Largest REITs – Worldwide||M. Cap||Total Assets||PB||PS||Yield %|
|PLD)"}">Prologis $PLD||$116 B||$61 B||2.7||17.6||2.5%|
|AMT)"}">American Tower $AMT||$100 B||$66 B||16.0||9.5||2.7%|
|EQIX)"}">Equinix $EQIX||$66 B||$29 B||6.0||9.3||1.7%|
|CCI)"}">Crown Castle $CCI||$63 B||$38 B||8.2||9.2||4.1%|
|O)"}">Realty Income $O||$44 B||$46 B||1.6||12.5||4.4%|
|FRA:VNA)"}">Vonovia $FRA:VNA||$23 B||$113 B||0.6||4.9||6.3%|
It’s pretty obvious that although Vonovia owns most assets ($113 B), it has the lowest market cap of all five. All of this while the price-to-book value sits at 0.6 (best and lowest), the price-to-sales at 4.9 (best and lowest), and the dividend yield at 6.32% (best and the highest).
Comparing Vonovia To Large U.S. Residential REITs
What if we’d compare Vonovia with the largest residential REITs in the U.S.? Well, I actually did and was quite surprised. It’d be the largest residential property owner, with the best financial ratios. I am highlighting the best values for each REIT. Disclosure: I also own Avalon Bay ($AVB) in my All-Weather Portfolio.
The below chart was created in Q4 of 2022 – since then, Vonovia’s price came down substantially, making the bull case for Vonovia even stronger.
Is Vonovia’s Dividend Safe?
Measured by the relatively low payout ratio of 42%, I deem Vonovia’s dividend as safe. At the end of the day, it is the largest European REIT, something that people gravitate to in times of uncertainty.
I actually see room for a potential increase. However, one word of caution: A large part of the profits is achieved through the yearly revaluation of the properties. Measured against the funds from operations from 2021 of EUR 2.15 per share, however, there could also be room for improvement. The equity ratio of 34 percent is not very high, but for a capital-intensive business model – like Vonovia’s – there could definitely be more leeway. In summary, I think the dividend is safe, with realistic room to grow over the years.
Is Vonovia Reasonably Priced?
Some quick back-of-napkin math: Vonovia owns 565,000 apartments, with 770 million shares = 1,370 shares per apartment (approx. €45K(apartment). The average size of all apartments is 62 sqm. With a market cap of 16,4 Bio €, that’s 29,000€ per apartment (used to be 45,000€ when I originally published this post in May 2022).
Well, I can tell you, you have to search for a long time if you like to find an apartment for 29,000€ and 62 sqm. This shows how grossly undervalued the Vonovia stock has become.
When looking at Vonovia’s price-to-book ratio, PB, we can see it currently sits at 0.48 (Oct 10th, 2022), which is the lowest it has ever been (light blue line).
As income investors, the dividend section is of big interest to us. Let’s take a look:
What I like here, in particular, is the high growth rate of 12.2%. That, paired with a 4.95% dividend yield gives us a chowder CAGR of 17,15% (not sure what the Chowder Dividend Rule is? –> watch this 5-min Youtube video), clearly above the recommended 12% for high-dividend payers. Not bad.
Now, when looking at the chart, you can see an extremely low RSI. It is at a bombed-out level. I think the area marked as ‘floor’ is a good buying area (update Jan 25th, 2022: Vonovia’s stock price sits now at around 25€, providing a an even better risk/reward).
On May 25th 2022, I received the latest Vonovia dividend, see below. For the 334 shares I own (total holding value approx. 11,000€), I received 408€, roughly 440 USD. I can sleep well at night owning a part of the largest European REIT.
Is European REIT Vonovia A Buy Here?
In short, yes for me. Comparing it with many of its peers, Vonovia is a rock-solid company with a fortress-like balance sheet, high dividend, good international diversification, and very experienced and prudent management I trust will steer this mega-ship steadily through any storms to come.
Aroundtown – Europe’s #1 Office REIT.
Aroundtown ($AANNF, $AT1, LU1673108939) was founded in 2004 and is listed on the German stock exchange since 2015. It was included in the S-Dax in 2017, in the MDAX in 2018, and it is now even included in the DAX 50 ESG Index since it took over another large REIT called TLG-Immobilien. It is now the largest European office REIT, holding real estate worth 25 Bio Euros.
Fun Fact: Since 2019, Aroundtown is the title sponsor of the German Bundesliga soccer club, 1. FC Union Berlin, playing in the highest league.
The main business model of the Luxembourg-based company is to acquire, developed, and lease income-generating quality properties in Tier 1 European cities in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK (basically London). It buys and leases out office, hotel, and commercial real estate, below is a quick breakdown:
How About Aroundtowns Profit & Loss?
As you know, I am not a professional analyst, more like your neighbor who’s passionate about dividend investing. But I like to study annual reports, balance sheets, and income statements, and here’s a quick glance:
Revenue is up, a recurring long-term rental is up, operating profit is up, and share price is down. Way down, more than 41% in fact. (updated Oct 10th, 2022: Arounndtown’s stock price tanked further, till 2.2€, providing a very compelling risk/reward ratio at this level).
Aroundtown’s stock price took a 41% nose-dive from the peak over a year ago. All of this while the business performance is significantly up. This smells like Mr. Market provides us with an opportunity here.
Now, I know there are several major uncertainties, in particular around the potentially rising interest rates (historically bad for property developers and owners), but I believe the central banks put themselves in a corner, and won’t be able to keep interest rates elevated for long. They’d bankrupt one community, city, region, country, or even region (e.g. PIGS) after the other.
Is European REIT Aroundtown A Buy?
Below 4.50 Euro, I like Aroundtown a lot. I will be adding to my stack. Can it fall further? Sure. But I believe we are way closer to the bottom than to the top. And having some money in Europe’s largest office REIT is surely a defensive play, something that I believe will be very relevant in the months to come.
SEGRO – Europe’s #1 Industrial REIT.
SEGRO (ISIN GB00B5ZN1N88, $SEGXF), is a real estate investment trust focused on industrial real estate. Its portfolio includes warehouses, industrial buildings, offices, logistics, and data centers in commercial and industrial areas in Great Britain and Europe.
The target properties are typically in close proximity to important transport hubs such as highways, ports, or airports. The company was founded in 1921 and is headquartered in Slough Berkshire, UK.
Technically SEGRO is not a company of the European Union, but from my point of view, it surely counts as a European REIT, as as of May 2022, it owns properties in multiple countries in Europe, see the breakdown below:
- UK (70)
- France (51)
- Germany (28)
- Poland (18)
- Italy (12)
- Spain (10)
- Netherlands (8)
- Czech Republic (1)
The activities of SEGRO include project management from planning through construction to marketing and administration of the buildings, as well as property management of existing buildings. SEGRO owns and manages real estate with over 6 Mio sqm (roughly 60 Mio sft) of commercial space.
I have been following SEGRO for years but so far have not bought it. I am not yet clear how a UK-based REIT would be treated tax-wise for German investors like myself, living in Singapore.
How About SEGRO’s Dividend?
SEGRO pays a solid dividend of 2.2%, growing at a 5-Year average rate of 8,8%. The payout ratio is extremely low (only 7%), meaning SEGRO can easily increase its dividend, should the experienced management so want.
Is Industrial REIT SEGRO A Buy?
When looking at SEGRO’s stock chart, we can see it’s about 25% off its high. It came down with the entire market without any particular catalyst or reason. I believe a prudent, long-term income investor can start to nibble on this conservatively-managed company at these levels.
(updated Oct 10th, 2022: Segro’s stock price came down by another 30%, same as for the two other European REITs, offering very interesting risk/reward ratios).
I personally like the company a lot, and it’s on my shopping list should we see any further major decline due to for example geopolitical stress. I appreciate the fact that SEGRO has a focus on the U.K., but is geographically sufficiently diversified. This European REIT has a strong balance sheet to weather any major storms, and its core business, industrial properties, will be in high demand in highly-industrialized Europe for decades to come.
What Are The Largest REITs in Europe?
There you have it, fellow stackers. I present my favorite 3x European REITs I either already own (Vonovia & Aroundtown), or have on my shopping list (SEGRO).
When it comes to investing, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees, particularly when you’re deep into the woods! When we zoom out, we can see lots and lots of uncertainty. My investment thesis for going heavy on European REITs is that they provide good shelter and stability in the long term.
As long as no war breaks out all over 🇪🇺Europe, these three companies will be around 10, 15, or 25 years from now, and most likely keep paying a healthy dividend. That’s what I like about them, and that’s why I am a buyer.
📘 Read Also
Which European REIT should I buy?
Why did shares of REITs fall so much in 2022?
The stock market is always forward-looking. One additional issue that might already be priced in although it did not make it into mainstream public media is the long-term consequences of “Europe’s Green Deal”, in particular on large property owners such as Vonovia or Aroundtown in Europe. Property owners can expect to see a substantial increase in costs for renovations and building new property types to meet very specific energy and material requirements. They might also have to bear changes in zoning laws, that could significantly limit the development of new properties.
How many REITs are there in Europe?
There are a total of 144 publicly-listed REITs in Europe, with only 15 European REITs having a market cap higher than 2 Bio USD (the U.S. has 74 publicly-listed REITs with a market cap of +2 Bio USD!).
What is the largest European REIT?
What are the best real estate stocks in Europe?
What are some good European Residential REITs?
Why are European REITs down in 2022?
The main reason is higher interest rates. The fear is that with higher interest rates, the REITs will have issues getting their debt financed. If they have to start selling some of their properties, now might not be a good time with everything going on in the world at the moment. Other challenges are rising energy costs and high inflation. The concern is that some rentees might not be able to pay their rent anymore, resulting in bad debt for European REITs like Vonovia, Aroundtown, or LEG.
How does the war impact European REITs?
The war in Ukraine creates a lot of uncertainty for European REITs. Key challenges are the looming energy crisis, high inflation, supply chain disruptions, and on top of all of that, the rapidly rising interest rates. This causes many investors to be concerned about the REITs in Europe to be able to keep their tenants, pay for their often high debt loads, and keep expanding.
What is a good Europe REIT?
How do the ‘Green Deals’ in the U.S. and Europe impact REITs?
The U.S.’ New Green Deal, or the ‘Europe Green Deal’, potentially have a significant impact on large property owners such as industrial, retail, residential, or office REITs, in both the U.S. and Europe. These Green Deals demand property developers and owners to adhere to stringent material and energy-efficiency requirements, making it more cumbersome and expensive to build, maintain or renovate existing buildings. The impact might be substantial. It is estimated that if a property owner owns three multi-family houses, he might have to sell one in order to have enough money to renovate the other two. And this will in particular have a big impact on those REITs that owns thousands, in Vonovia’s case, hundreds of thousands of apartments all over Europe.