Your Backdoor Tech Play for a Volatile 2022
Tech stocks – along with the rest of the market – have had a rough 2022.
However, while the rest of the market rides the roller coaster, I want to direct your attention to a reliable backdoor tech play… Iron Mountain (NYSE: IRM).
Normally, a real estate investment trust (REIT) like Iron Mountain wouldn’t be considered a “tech stock,” but Iron Mountain is a physical and digital storage company that successfully latched on to the booming demand for data storage.
Historically, Iron Mountain’s bread and butter was physical storage. Companies are required to keep important financial records for long periods of time, so Iron Mountain solidified itself as the place for companies to store their paper documents.
In today’s digital era, Iron Mountain is still holding strong. Its clients currently include over 95% of the companies on the Fortune 1000, and Iron Mountain has a 98% customer retention rate.
Iron Mountain’s growing data storage footprint now consists of 20 different locations over three continents.
We’ve rated Iron Mountain’s dividend safety here in Safety Net before, back in 2019, when it took a hit to its rating for having a payout ratio that was slightly over 100%.
As a REIT, Iron Mountain is required to pay out at least 90% of its funds to investors, so we want to see a payout ratio under 100%.
However, Iron Mountain has hit its stride since we last graded the company – particularly when it comes to adjusted funds from operations (AFFO), the measure of cash flow we use for REITs.
AFFO came in at $649.3 million in 2019 but rose to $663.1 million in 2020 and $724.5 million in 2021.
For 2022, however, Iron Mountain’s AFFO is expected to be $1.1 billion – a 52% jump from last year’s AFFO and the best the company will have ever had.
These steadily rising numbers are more than enough to support Iron Mountain’s dividend – a dividend the company has raised six times without a cut in the past decade.
Additionally, Iron Mountain paid out 99% of its AFFO to investors last year, but this year, it has paid out only 65% so far.
Given that Iron Mountain hasn’t raised its dividend since 2019 and it’s paying way under what’s required, I think not only that Iron Mountain’s dividend is safe from being cut but also that Iron Mountain could raise its dividend payout in the near future.
Dividend Safety Rating: A
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