Cousins Properties (NYSE: CUZ) and American Assets Trust (NYSE:AAT) are both finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their dividends, valuation, earnings, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, profitability and risk.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of current ratings and price targets for Cousins Properties and American Assets Trust, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Cousins Properties 0 0 4 0 3.00
American Assets Trust 0 2 1 0 2.33

Cousins Properties currently has a consensus price target of $10.13, suggesting a potential upside of 12.50%. American Assets Trust has a consensus price target of $43.67, suggesting a potential upside of 21.16%. Given American Assets Trust’s higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe American Assets Trust is more favorable than Cousins Properties.

Dividends

Cousins Properties pays an annual dividend of $0.24 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.7%. American Assets Trust pays an annual dividend of $1.08 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.0%. Cousins Properties pays out 44.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. American Assets Trust pays out 163.6% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Cousins Properties has increased its dividend for 4 consecutive years.

Profitability

This table compares Cousins Properties and American Assets Trust’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Cousins Properties 48.08% 8.39% 5.42%
American Assets Trust 10.90% 3.97% 1.58%

Insider and Institutional Ownership

98.2% of American Assets Trust shares are held by institutional investors. 1.1% of Cousins Properties shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 34.2% of American Assets Trust shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Risk & Volatility

Cousins Properties has a beta of 1.09, indicating that its share price is 9% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, American Assets Trust has a beta of 0.52, indicating that its share price is 48% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Cousins Properties and American Assets Trust’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Cousins Properties $259.21 million 14.58 $79.10 million $0.54 16.67
American Assets Trust $295.09 million 5.76 $45.63 million $0.66 54.61

Cousins Properties has higher earnings, but lower revenue than American Assets Trust. Cousins Properties is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than American Assets Trust, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

Cousins Properties beats American Assets Trust on 10 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Cousins Properties

Cousins Properties Incorporated is a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust. The Company’s segments include Office, Mixed-Use, Other, Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Orlando, Tampa, Phoenix and Other. It develops, acquires, leases, manages and owns primarily Class A office properties and opportunistic mixed-use developments in Sunbelt markets with a focus on Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. It manages a 15.8 million-square-foot trophy office portfolio in the Sun Belt markets of Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Orlando, Tampa and Tempe. As of December 31, 2016, its portfolio of real estate assets consisted of interests in 16.2 million square feet of office space and 786,000 square feet of mixed-use space. The Company, through Cousins TRS Services LLC, owns and manages its own real estate portfolio and performs certain real estate related services for other parties. Its properties include Colorado Tower, 816 Congress, Promenade and Gateway Village.

About American Assets Trust

American Assets Trust, Inc. is a full service, vertically integrated and self-administered real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company owns, operates, acquires and develops retail, office, multifamily and mixed-use properties in Southern California, Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Hawaii markets. The Company operates in four business segments: retail, office, multifamily and mixed-use. As of December 31, 2016, the Company’s portfolio consisted of 11 retail shopping centers; seven office properties; a mixed-use property consisting of a 369-room all-suite hotel and a retail shopping center, and five multifamily properties. Additionally, as of December 31, 2016, the Company owned land at four of its properties that it classified as held for development and construction in progress. The Company’s markets include San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, Oregon, Bellevue, Washington and Oahu, Hawaii.

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