Investing In Data Centers

By Matthew McCall | October 04, 2010 AAA

As the need for more data and storage continue to expand, so too does the space that's needed to house the technology required for the expansion. The companies that own and operate the data centers throughout the country could be the big winners in the next decade as the world moves towards cloud computing. In cloud computing the data is stored in the "cloud" and no longer on site, thus increasing the demand for the data centers.


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Increasing Earnings
Digital Realty Trust
(NYSE:DLR) is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns, manages and develops technology-related properties. The stock currently pays a dividend yield of 3.5% and is trading with 5% of the all-time high set in mid-June. DLR reported earnings per share of $2.93 in 2009 and they are expected to increase to $3.30 in 2010 and $3.86 in 2011 according to the First Call estimates. The stock is trading with a forward P/E ratio of 15.8 and a price-to-sales of 7.31. (For further reading, see The REIT Way.)

DuPont Fabros Technology (NYSE:DFT) also operates as a REIT and has a similar business model to DLR. Other than simply providing the facilities that house the electronic equipment, the DFT will provide the technical services needed to construct a specific layout for each client. The company reported earnings per share of 88 cents per share in 2009, and over the next two years the number is expected to jump to $1.37 and $1.68, according to the First Call estimates. The dividend yield is currently 1.9% and the forward P/E ratio is 22.4 with a price-to-sales of 7.1.

Recent IPO
CoreSite Realty Corporation (NYSE:COR) began trading in September and is a pure play on data centers. The company has three primary offerings: wholesale data centers, co-location and peering. Currently COR has over two million square feet of space with over 500 customers. Since going public the company has traded within a narrow range and after two weeks of gyrations is close to where it opened the first day. COR posted operating revenue of $66.6 million in the first six months of 2010 with funds from operations at $17.5 million. The CEO has declined to give specific targets going forward, making this REIT a bit risky at such an early stage. (For more, see How To Assess A Real Estate Investment Trust.)

The Secondary Technology Play
There is no doubt that more companies will outsource their storage and data needs in the future. The question is how much and how quickly and who will be the big winners. At this time I go with the two names that have been around for years: DFT and DLR. (For more, see Big REIT Dividends.)

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