The recent craze over Pokemon Go is yet another illustrative example that leads us to believe that the demand for data centers will continue to grow at its accelerated rate.
New technologies and services that increase the demand for mobile data also increase the demand for data center services. The high levels of growth have been accompanied by a high fragmentation of the data center industry. Both of these aspects of the industry have had a substantial impact on data center REITs.
The demand for data center services is growing across the full market range. Whether the services are supplied wholesale, retail or as something in between, a number of different business strategies have flourished in this high demand market, and REITs have been racing to keep their expansion at pace with the market’s demand for capacity.
The data center industry’s fragmentation has resulted in a number of small operators, mostly composed of up to three data centers each. These small operators combined earn the majority of the industry’s current revenues. The current set of data center REITs are just the tip of the iceberg that is transforming the face of the data center industry.
Equinix and Digital Realty are the two largest data center operators by far among the REITs, as well as in the industry as a whole. They have respective market capitalizations of $23 billion and $16 billion. All of the remaining data center REITs are significantly smaller; Digital Realty itself is larger than the other four data center REITs combined (DuPont Fabros at $3.1 billion, Cyrusone at $2.7 billion, QTS Realty at $2.7 billion and CoreSite Realty at $2.4 billion).
Market fragmentation opens an industry to new entrants and makes the market more competitive. To maintain market share, companies begin to look at mergers and acquisitions of smaller rivals to gain economies of scale and offer more competitive prices. Therefore, it is highly likely that we will see the continued consolidation of the industry illustrated by Equinix and Digital Reality over the last year.
The on-going acceleration of industry growth and the current state of fragmentation show that the data center industry is still in a state of maturation and transformation.
Source: DuPont Fabros Technology, Inc.(NYSE:DFT), Cyrusone Inc.(NasdaqGS:CONE), QTS Realty Trust, Inc.(NYSE:QTS), CoreSite Realty Corporation(NYSE:COR), Equinix, Inc.(NasdaqGS:EQIX), Digital Realty Trust Inc.(NYSE:DLR)
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Disclosure: The author is long FCH, XHR, and CLDT.