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REITS: The gifts that keep on giving Add to ...

Imagine, for just a second, that you’re a genius. And that because you’re such a smartypants, you realized the drama over the U.S. debt ceiling last summer was just the start of another bout of global turmoil. Anticipating more stress, you stocked up on a basket of high-yielding REITs last August.

Had you been so smart, your total return today would be 33 per cent. The total return on the S&P/TSX Composite Index, in comparison, is nil.

Now, the utilities sub-index is also up 17 per cent, including dividends, since markets nose-dived in early August, and financials are up about 10 per cent.

But REITs have stood out in the past few months. Early this year, everything got a lift as the entire Canadian market climbed higher. But since late February, when energy and materials fell off a cliff, REITs have somehow continued to shine.

Financials and utilities have flat total returns since late February, while REITS have actually gone higher (adding about 7 per cent). Contrast that with a 24 per cent loss for the materials sub-index and a 15 per cent loss for energy.

I’m not trying to make REITs look ex t ra special. But you simply can’t ignore the numbers. And now that an interest rate hike is likely pushed out even farther into the future, the chances of more appreciation are only getting better.

Follow on Twitter: @timkiladze

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