Canada: Where you can find 11.5% Yields

Posted by Carla Pasternak - Dividend Opportunities

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Where You Can Find 11.5% Yields

Canada has been an income investor’s playscape for decades.

That reputation comes thanks mainly to Canadian trusts, which aren’t taxed at the corporate level as long as they pay out the bulk of earnings as dividends. That’s allowed them to spit out double-digit yields like clockwork. So many businesses opted for the trust structure that lawmakers decided to start taxing them like corporations in 2011.  [Read: Don’t Buy a Canadian Trust Until You Read This]

Does that mean high yields from Canada are history?

Hardly! There’s another group of Canadian securities shooting off tax-advantaged high yields; I’ve found some as high 11.5%. Best of all, conditions for this group look to be on an uptrend.

Canada was one of the first countries to recover from the global recession. GDP grew +6.1% in the first quarter… nearly all jobs lost during the recession have been recovered… and Canada has even had to start raising interest rates thanks to its recovery.

These are good signs for investors in Canadian REITs.

Yes, just like the U.S., Canada has REITs too. But I doubt you’ve heard of them before. Canada has about three dozen REITs in total. Yields average about 8%, but I’ve seen them creep upwards of 10% — even nearly 12% in some cases. That’s what you get when business is booming.

Unlike U.S. real estate, Canada’s property market is thriving. Occupancies average 97.4%, according to a June report by credit rating agency DBRS. Moreover, Canadian REITs are taking full advantage of low interest rates (even though they are now rising slightly) to refinance existing debt at historically low rates. For example, Riocan (TSX: REI-UN), Canada’s largest REIT, recently reduced a mortgage on one of its properties by about -1.8% when it secured a five-year mortgage at 4.2%, a record low for the trust. Management estimates the savings from refinancing its debt this year should equate to about $0.02 per share.

These factors have helped Canada’s largest REITs return nearly +18% so far this year, according to the S&P/TSX Capped REIT Index. In contrast, the S&P 500 is up only +5%.

But most of us aren’t investing in Canada’s REITs. Why aren’t we flooding the sector with cash?

The answer is twofold. First is the market’s sheer size. Canada’s property market is very small compared to the U.S. I told you above that only about three dozen are traded.

But I think the biggest reason is that Canadian REITs trade mostly on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)… and that scares off stateside investors. Here’s the good news: It doesn’t matter.

Most U.S. brokers can fill orders on the TSX. Fidelity, E*Trade, and Schwab all offer access. Buying Canadian shares can actually be as simple as buying those in the U.S. At worst, it might take an extra phone call to your broker.

One thing you do have to watch — currency rates. Canadian REITs trade and pay dividends in Canadian dollars. But remember that those amounts will be converted back to U.S. dollars if you’re an American investor. This feature has actually been good news since about the start of 2009; the Canadian dollar has gained about +15% over that time. An appreciating Canadian dollar makes dividends and share prices worth more to U.S. investors, making Canadian REITs a solid way to play a weak U.S. dollar, too.

Good Investing!


Carla Pasternak’s Dividend Opportunities

P.S. — I mentioned above that Canadian REITs yield up to 11.5%. That comes courtesy of Scott’s (TSX: SRQ.UN). As my High-Yield International readers know, this REIT isn’t my favorite, but it certainly pays a mouth-watering monthly yield.