|INN was he worst performing REIT for the first q. according to this article. But look at what happened to PEI.|
DJ Investment Up In Small Real Estate Cos In Q1, While Overall REITs Weaker
By A.D. Pruitt
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Investors piled into the stocks of small real-estate companies during the first quarter, an indication that the improving economy is encouraging investors to take on more risk.
Overall, the performance of real-estate investment trusts was weaker in the just-ended quarter compared with the previous quarter. The Dow Jones All REIT index posted a total return of 10.48% in the first quarter, down sharply from the fourth quarter's return of 15%.
But in a surprise, returns for some smaller REITs were higher. The three best-performing REITs in the latest quarter have market capitalizations of less than $1 billion and were among the worst-performing stocks last year. Many of the smaller-cap REITs are considered riskier investments than larger companies because they usually shoulder heavy debt loads and tenant demand is more sensitive to economic pressures. As such their stock prices tend to be on the cheap side.
For instance, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PEI), a Philadelphia-based owner of 49 shopping malls that has a market cap of about $845 million, was the top-performing REIT in the Dow Jones index for the first quarter with a 48% total return. That is a turnaround from last year, when Pennsylvania REIT was one of the worst performers, posting a return of negative 24%.
Last year, investors dumped Pennsylvania REIT on concerns that the company was too highly leveraged and that sales volumes at some of its malls were too low to remain viable.
In recent months, however, investors' perceptions of the company have changed. With "the economy picking up, credit markets reopening and retailers looking for space...investors are more willing to take a position" in the company, said Nathan Isbee, an analyst at Stifel Nicholas.
Nursing-home landlord, Sabra Health Care REIT, Inc. (SBRA) posted the second-best performance in the latest quarter with a total return of 38.8%. Last year, the stock of the company, based in Irvine, Calif., posted a total return of negative 29% on fears that steep cuts in Medicare reimbursements would hurt the ability of its tenants to pay rent.
Joel Beam, a fund manager at the Forward Select Income Fund and one of Sabra's largest shareholders, said the company and its tenants should be able to cut expenses to offset expected drops in Medicare revenues. Besides, "there aren't many stocks out there that you can get an 8% yield," Beam said. Sabra's yield is significantly higher than industry's average of roughly 3%.
Timber REITs, companies that grow and harvest the trees used to produce lumber used for home building, were also strong performers during the quarter, benefiting from perceptions that the housing industry is on the cusp of a recovery that will eventually prompt builders to ramp up construction. The three companies that make up the timber sector had an average total return of 8.65%, according to the Dow Jones index.
Weyerhaeuser Co. (WY), the leading timber REIT and one of the largest forest-products companies in the world, posted a total return of 18% during the latest quarter.
While all the property sectors ended in positive territory, the health-care REITs posted the smallest total return, 2%. Because these landlords have very long-term leases, the perception is they won't be able to benefit from higher rents as fast as their peers that have shorter contracts and cater to a broader array of consumers like retail, hotels and multifamily.
The worst-performing REIT was Summit Hotel Properties Inc. (INN), delivering a total return of negative 18.8%. Investors started exiting the stock after the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings in late February at a time when many hotel companies are posting improving profit on increased corporate and luxury travel.
"Investors were anticipating better revpar [revenue per available rooms] numbers and that has not yet materialized," said Daniel Donlan, an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC. He said part of the problem was the company started renovations at a number of its hotels, which disrupted bookings.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 03, 2012 15:57 ET (19:57 GMT)
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