The shares of many real estate investment trusts that invest in suburban strip-malls had been struggling — until Warren Buffett determined that at least one of these stocks was too cheap.

Berkshire, characteristically, is going against a herd of investors who believe that retail powerhouse Amazon.com AMZN, -1.73% will destroy traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Amazon’s recent bid for Whole Foods Market WFM, -0.30% only intensified the REIT stock decline, and also hit shares of many major strip-mall REIT tenants including Costco Wholesale COST, -0.59% , Target TGT, +1.15% , Kroger KR, +0.71% , and Bed Bath and Beyond BBBY, +2.09% .

There aren’t clear answers to questions about strip mall retailing’s future. But if you think the industry will survive in some form, there are plenty of stocks to examine.

Dividend yield is the top criteria many retail investors note when looking at REITs. But often big dividend yields can signal that a company is in trouble. So when I compiled a list of some of the bigger strip mall REITs, and ranked them on dividend yield, I was keen to understand why DDR Corp DDR, -0.78% has a much higher yield than its peers.

Here’s what I learned after doing a deeper analysis that is far from exhaustive, but can provide some pointers to income investors on how not to get burned chasing current yield.

Company

Ticker

YTD Return

12-month dividend/

share

12-month FFO/

share

Stock price

Price/

FFO

Div.

yield

Dividend Payout Ratio (Dividend/

FFO)

DDR Corp.

DDR

-40.67%

$0.76

$1.02

$8.68

8.51

8.76%

0.75

Kimco Realty

KIM

-27.42%

$1.05

$1.31

$17.99

13.73

5.84%

0.80

National Retail Properties

NNN

-11.67%

$2.00

$2.24

$38.13

17.02

5.25%

0.89

Weingarten Realty

WRI

-14.78%

$1.50