Monday, March 16, 2009

Much More Pain Ahead For REITs

Zero Hedge has written much about this so no comments here. Good article from Bloomberg summarizing the upcoming pain. Some salient quotes:
REITs are cheap but they’re going to continue to be cheap,” said Marc Halle, managing director of Prudential Real Estate Investors in Parsippany, New Jersey, whose firm manages about $32.5 billion in real estate assets. “We’re going to see increased corporate bankruptcies and continued unemployment for the next few months.”

More than a dozen retailers, including Circuit City Stores Inc. and Linens ‘n Things Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008. Store closures have hit shopping center landlords including Developers Diversified Realty Corp., whose stock fell 95 percent during the past year to $1.89.

The dividend yield on the retail REIT index is almost 15 percent, more than five times the 2.88 percent yield of the 10- year Treasury note, a traditional benchmark of value. During the past decade, REIT yields averaged less than 2 percentage points above Treasury yields.

Retail REITs are worse off because they borrowed more heavily than apartment and health care landlords, said Dean Frankel, a senior portfolio manager at Urdang Securities who helps manage about $1 billion of real estate securities.

Refinancing Risk

The real estate market has been in limbo while investors await government measures to deal with the collapse of the banking industry and boost an economy in its second year of recession.

Refinancing risk is driving REIT prices, said Prudential’s Halle.

“No one cares about value,” he said. “It’s about survival and making your balance sheet as strong as you can.”

disclosure: long SRS Sphere: Related Content
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Amit Chokshi said...

Tyler, great blog, I would also say that these commercial REITs are heavily tied to various life insurers. Interesting to see how PRU and MET have rallied so strongly. PRU has about $400+B in assets against equity of just $13B. Trading at 0.7x book seems pretty generous to me. More pain in commercial RE = more pain for insurers. Could be a good combo for the year similar to shorting banks last year.