Displaying items by tag: reits
Retail is dying, right? Brick and mortar is doomed, supposedly, but that assumption creates some opportunity. The reality is that despite the broader headwinds the industry is facing, some malls and some REITs are doing well. Macerich, for instance, is a large REIT that owns several “trophy” malls amidst its 47 properties. The stock is trading at just 7x earnings, which incredibly cheap for a REIT. Apartment REITs, for instance, are trading at 20x. Its dividend cover ratio is fairly tight, but its overall model looks solid and it is yielding 10.9%.
FINSUM: There is a lot of opportunity in retail stocks, but you need to know where to look, and it takes quite an understanding of the space to sift through the options. Macerich looks solid.
If you have been investing in REITs over the last few years, one of the key driving mantras has been the idea that one should move away from brick and mortar-oriented retail REITs and toward those that are more ecommerce-focused. In other words, buy REITs focused on warehouses, not those on malls. However, that arithmetic might be changing, as the big boom in warehousing is now facing headwinds because of the trade war. Recently was the first time in years that “the market didn’t lease to its full potential”, said a trade group in the space. The sector is “uniquely exposed to trade activity and manufacturing activity, which are very much impacted by the tariffs”.
FINSUM: To us this seems more likely to prove a short-term headwind than a long-term issue given the driving force behind warehouse growth is not actually tied to any trade policy, but a broader change in consumption patterns.
Low volatility stocks have been the hero of the volatility over the last year. In the past 12 months, the S&P 500 has returned 3.2%. That compares to a whopping 14% plus for low volatility stocks, such as in the S&P 500 low-vol index. By definition, low volatility stocks are boring (think utilities, insurance, and REITs) and have stable earnings. That works well for defending against market swings, but the protection means that valuations are WAY above their long-term average (three standard deviations above). That said, falling rates are very helpful to this class of stocks, so there is wind at their backs.
FINSUM: Despite quite high valuations, we think low vol stocks will continue to do well so long as the trade war continues to plague markets.
There are a lot of safe havens that people are trying to use to defend against market turbulence right now. The two that immediately come to mind are Treasury bonds and gold. However, those are clearly overbought, so where is another good place? Some REITs are offering very attractive defensive profiles. REITs generally do well during periods of falling rates as their yields become ever more attractive. They were beat up during the rate rises of 2018, but have surged this year, up 20%. What is very compelling, though, is that despite the big rise, REIT valuations are just now returning to their average historical valuations. Speaking about the nature of REIT cash flows, especially regarding long-term leases, “The cash flow is locked in, and that’s just not the case for most of the stock market”, says and Eaton Vance Real Estate fund manager.
FINSUM: Certain REITs seem like they could be a very good buy right now given that they are not overpriced and have falling rates as a tailwind.
REITs are in an interesting position right now given the downward rate environment. One on the one hand, that makes them look better, but given that rates are being driven by economic fears, it might not be good after all. However, one area of REITs looks pretty attractive—mall REITS. Yes, that might sound insane given the state of brick and mortar retail, but that is exactly the point. Expectations are so low, that the bar for prices to rise is quite low.
FINSUM: “A” malls, or REITs with top producing properties seem to the best bet, as they are better capitalized to upgrade their stores and have the most resilient locations.