Empire State Realty Trust (NYSE: ESRT) and Cousins Properties (NYSE:CUZ) are both mid-cap finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their institutional ownership, dividends, analyst recommendations, risk, profitability, valuation and earnings.

Profitability

This table compares Empire State Realty Trust and Cousins Properties’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Empire State Realty Trust 11.90% 3.98% 2.04%
Cousins Properties 48.08% 8.39% 5.42%

Dividends

Empire State Realty Trust pays an annual dividend of $0.42 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.0%. Cousins Properties pays an annual dividend of $0.24 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.5%. Empire State Realty Trust pays out 107.7% 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 pays out 44.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Empire State Realty Trust has increased its dividend for 3 consecutive years. Cousins Properties is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and lower payout ratio.

Analyst Ratings

This is a summary of recent recommendations and price targets for Empire State Realty Trust and Cousins Properties, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Empire State Realty Trust 0 1 1 0 2.50
Cousins Properties 0 0 4 0 3.00

Empire State Realty Trust presently has a consensus target price of $22.33, suggesting a potential upside of 7.84%. Cousins Properties has a consensus target price of $10.13, suggesting a potential upside of 6.69%. Given Empire State Realty Trust’s higher probable upside, equities analysts clearly believe Empire State Realty Trust is more favorable than Cousins Properties.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

82.5% of Empire State Realty Trust shares are held by institutional investors. 11.8% of Empire State Realty Trust shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 1.1% of Cousins Properties shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Risk & Volatility

Empire State Realty Trust has a beta of 0.98, suggesting that its share price is 2% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Cousins Properties has a beta of 1.09, suggesting that its share price is 9% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Empire State Realty Trust and Cousins Properties’ gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Empire State Realty Trust $678.00 million 4.85 $52.39 million $0.39 53.10
Cousins Properties $259.21 million 15.38 $79.10 million $0.54 17.57

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

Summary

Cousins Properties beats Empire State Realty Trust on 11 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Empire State Realty Trust

Empire State Realty Trust, Inc. is a real estate investment trust. The Company owns, manages, operates, acquires and repositions office and retail properties in Manhattan and the greater New York metropolitan area, including the Empire State Building. The Company operates through two segments: Real Estate and Observatory. The Real Estate segment includes all activities related to the ownership, management, operation, acquisition, repositioning and disposition of its real estate assets. The Observatory segment operates the 86th and 102nd floor observatories at the Empire State Building. As of December 31, 2016, its portfolio consisted of 14 office properties and six standalone retail properties totaling approximately 10.1 million rentable square feet. The Company’s properties include One Grand Central Place, 1400 Broadway, 111 West 33rd Street, 250 West 57th Street, 1359 Broadway and 1333 Broadway.

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.

Receive News & Ratings for Empire State Realty Trust Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for Empire State Realty Trust and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.