This Overlooked REIT Is Quietly Profiting Off Of The U.S. Oil Boom

Investors Real Estate does not get much respect. Perhaps the name of the company does not excite investors, or because it is based in Minot, North Dakota. But investors would be wrong to skip over this one. They should take a deeper look into the company's operations:

A small midwestern REIT
Investors Real Estate is a real estate investment trust (REIT). The company is small, with a market cap hovering around $1 billion. Dividends have been paid to shareholders for decades, and the current yield is around 5.8%. The company has a diverse portfolio of 257 properties across 12 states covering a variety of different segments, including: retail, industrial, health care, office, and multifamily. There are currently six projects in development: four in North Dakota and two in Minnesota. While it is operating is focusing on several different segments to drive growth and value, there is one particular market that I will be discussing: North Dakota. 

Strong management team
CEO Timothy P. Mihalick has been with the company since 1981. CFO Diane K. Bryantt has been with the company since 1996. Both are graduates of Minot State University, so they know the North Dakota region well. 

Accommodating a boomtown
The North Dakota projects are specifically caught my eye. Renaissance Heights (288 units, opening in 2015) and Dakota Commons (44 units, opening summer, 2014) are being built in Williston, while The Commons at Southgate (233 units, opening summer, 2014) is being built in Minot. If you don't know by now, Williston is at the heart of the Bakken energy boom. Accommodation is hard to come by, and rent is currently higher than New York City. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is 2.6% in the state, the lowest in the country.  Minot also serves employees working in the energy industry, and the company has a portfolio of 29 diverse properties in the Minot area. 

Dakota Commons in Williston, ND              Source: Company Website

Oil States International  recently spun-off its accommodation business to form Civeo . While I believe that the newly formed company, with its two accommodation developments near Williston,  offers investors compelling value in a niche market, the company is more focused on international markets. Civeo has most of its operations in Australia and Canada, with only a little exposure to the United States. Operations in the U.S. contribute only 7% of revenue and 4% of EBITDA in FY 2013. Also, the company might apply to become a REIT in the future, but it is not certain. Investors Real Estate is already a REIT. 

Investors should be aware that while the North Dakota projects will likely deliver significant value, there have been numerous delays. This segment is just one area of growth in the company's long term growth strategy. In order for it to continue to focus on acquisitions as well, the dividend was cut for the first time in the company's history in September, 2011. It has not increased since, and investors should be wary of any future dividend cuts. Putting that issue issue aside, Investors Real Estate Trust offers compelling value.

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