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REIT Outperforms Broader Market, Springs Up in March

The real estate investment trust (REIT) industry outperformed the broader market and rebounded in March. In fact, the FTSE NAREIT All REITs Index gained 10% in the month against the 6.8% rise in the S&P 500 Index.

This came after the troublesome months of January and February when both the REIT industry and the broader market suffered losses amid soft economic data, weakening corporate earnings outlook, global macroeconomic headwinds and Fed-centric anxieties.

Global issues continued to swarm in March. Yet the rate issues subsided as the benchmark rate was kept steady by the Fed in its March meeting and the possibility of rate hikes was lowered to two from four predicted earlier.

The icing on the cake was the super dovish comment from the Fed Chair Janet Yellen made to the Economic Club of New York that policy members should be more cautious on the rate hike issue given increased global risks. Further, Yellen declined to confirm the durability of the recent pickup in the inflation rate.

As such, this year through Apr 5, total returns of the FTSE/NAREIT All REIT Index came at 5.03%, while the S&P 500 Index gained 0.65%. Moreover, segment-wise, the top performers over this timeframe include the free-standing retail REITs that gained 19.3%, data center REITs that recorded a return of 14.0%, specialty REITs that ascended 12.9% and self-storage REITs that enjoyed a 10.0% increase in total returns.

Notably, data center REITs and storage REITs were decent performers in recent periods, thanks to their solid fundamentals. In fact, with growth in cloud computing, Internet of Things and big data, and an increased number of companies opting for third-party IT infrastructure, data center REITs are experiencing a boom market. And companies like Digital Realty Trust Inc. DLR and Cyrusone Inc. CONE are efficiently capitalizing on favorable fundamentals.

On the other hand, self storage industry fundamentals remain strong as a result of limited new supply amid capital constraints and increased barriers to entry. And demand remains solid on the back of favorable demographic changes and events like marriages, shifting, death and even divorce. That should give ample opportunities of growth to self storage REITs like Public Storage PSA and National Storage Affiliates NSA.

Currently, Public Storage and National Storage have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) while Digital Realty and Cyrusone carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
PUBLIC STORAGE (PSA): Free Stock Analysis Report
DIGITAL RLTY TR (DLR): Free Stock Analysis Report
NATL STORAGE (NSA): Free Stock Analysis Report
CYRUSONE INC (CONE): Free Stock Analysis Report
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