News Analysis date published New: 
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 11:14
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Thursday, September 30, 2010 - 16:12
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 11:14

Where You Can Find 11.5% Yields

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 11:14 AM

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

That reputation is mainly thanks 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 started raising interest rates thanks to its recovery.

These are good signs for investors in Canadian REITs (real estate investment trusts).

Yes, just like the United States, 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. By 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. And as I told you before, only about three dozen REITS are publicly 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. But 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.

Action to Take --> Buying Canadian shares can actually be as simple as buying on the U.S. exchanges. 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% during 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.

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.

P.S. -- Over the past few weeks we've been telling you about an opportunity to protect yourself from the coming tax hikes. Have you taken action yet? If not, here's what you need to know to get started.

Carla Pasternak does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.