VICI Properties Lifts Dividend 11 Percent, Third Straight Hike Since Inception

Posted on: September 11, 2020, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: September 11, 2020, 12:58h.

VICI Properties (NYSE:VICI) said Thursday it’s boosting its annual dividend 10.9 percent to $1.32 a share. VICI is the owner of Caesars Palace Las Vegas and a variety of other well-known domestic gaming properties.

Harrah’s on the Las Vegas Strip, a venue owned by VICI Properties, which raised its dividend. (Image: Reno Gazette-Journal)

The new payout, which works out to 33 cents on a quarterly basis, is payable on Oct. 8 to shareholders of record on Sept. 30. Dividend increases are never guaranteed, but some analysts expected VICI would raise the cash reward this month.

This nearly 11 percent increase is well-supported by the growth in our acquired funds from operations (AFFO) from the recently closed transactions, and cash rent collection track record,” said VICI CFO David Kieske in a statement.

The gaming real estate investment trust (REIT) was spun off from the old version of Caesars Entertainment in October 2017, and with today’s dividend news, its payout increase streak is now three years.

Impressive Feat

As noted above, VICI’s ability to collect rent from its tenants is itself impressive, because domestic gaming properties were shuttered for three months — in some cases longer — earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the landlord encountered no issues with clients on lease obligations and even helped one with financing issues.

The new Caesars is VICI’s largest tenant by way of the real estate company’s relationship with its former parent and the old Eldorado Resorts, the operator that bought Caesars. Penn National Gaming is VICI’s other marquee client.

The REIT’s dividend increase is notable for other reasons. First, every US-based gaming operator that had a cash payout prior to the COVID-19 pandemic either cut or suspended those distributions to conserve cash. Second, the real estate sector is one of the epicenters of dividend duress this year, as REITs are being punished by retail store closures and abandoned office space.

Obviously, VICI doesn’t operate in those segments. As such, the owner of the property assets of several Horseshoe casinos is outperforming the MSCI US Investable Market Real Estate 25/50 Index by 600 basis points year-to-date.

Positioned for More Growth

Forecasting any company’s dividend plans for 2021 is tricky at this point. But VICI is building a track record of steady growth.

“We will continue to maintain a prudent approach to capital allocation and strive to reward shareholders through accretive growth and attractive total return,” said Kieske.

Going beyond the corporate-speak, VICI added $253 million in annual rent with the creation of the new Caesars. With less than a third of its lease revenue derived from the still-sluggish Las Vegas Strip, the REIT has a lower risk profile. That potentially ensures its enviable record of rent collection can continue even if the US economy staggers.

Based on Thursday’s close at $23.75, VICI yields 5.55 percent when accounting for the new dividend. Among the three publicly traded gaming REITs, VICI has the lowest yield.