Thursday, 21 March 2024 12:02

Public REITs Offer More Upside Than Private REITs

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2024 has been underwhelming so far for REITs, as evidenced by the iShares US Real Estate ETF’s YTD 4.5% decline, while the S&P 500 is up 9% YTD. Two major reasons for this underperformance are continued struggles for the office segment and less clarity about the outlook for monetary policy, following a series of stronger than expected labor market and inflation data.

However, the intermediate-term outlook for the sector remains favorable due to attractive yields and earnings growth despite a challenging, near-term environment. Further, most segments are in good shape. According to Steve Brown, the senior portfolio manager at American Century Investments, “The REIT industry is very diversified among different sectors like data centers, towers, and industrial, and office is only about 4 or 5 percent of the index. So while office has issues, many other property sectors have pricing power and can raise rents greater than inflation.” 

He also favors public REITs over private REITs, as public REITs are cheaper while offering more liquidity. He notes that many private REITs are still trading at or just above net asset value (NAV), while public REITs are trading at an average 20% discount to NAV. Overall, he sees a much more benign environment in 2024, especially once the Fed starts cutting rates.  

Finsum: REITs have had a rocky start to the year. However, the fundamentals for the sector continue to improve, while many of its challenges are already reflected in depressed valuations.

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