In 1968 at the height, so to speak, of the Vietnam War, U.S. Air Force Major Chet Brown was fresh out of ideas and common sense. Tired, frustrated and on the wrong end of a microphone after a battle for the provincial capital of Ben Tre, he famously allowed that it had become necessary to destroy the town in order to save it. Such is the logic surrounding 9 REIT stock offerings in the first half of 2009.
Undercapitalized and over-leveraged, many REITs had no choice but to enter into dilutive transactions in order to survive. But Like Ben Tre, these 9 REITs have been flattened by massively dilutive equity offerings, and nobody can predict when they will be able to meaningfully grow their dividends again.
Most of these “re-equitizations” were completed overnight within hours of being announced, which is no wonder as they were priced at a huge discount (over 10%) to the previous day’s close. Many of these REIT offerings more than doubled the amount of shares outstanding.
The decision to sell massive amounts of discounted stock at a time when rents are declining across the board is tantamount to destroying these REITs. Indeed, dividends were cut almost immediately after these offerings closed. While it’s unclear how the new shareholders felt about this little welcoming gift, what is clear is that these stock deals were hugely dilutive, and that will make it extremely difficult to show any meaningful dividend growth for at least the next several years:
NINE NOT SO GOOD REIT DEALS
Increase In Shares Outstanding
Brandywine Realty Trust
There are many good reasons to invest in REITs right now. REITs typically lead property markets into and out of recessions, and these successful equity offerings indicate that the market is anticipating a recovery. Nevertheless, these 9 REITs are best avoided in favor of others that have not had to conduct such radical recapitalizations.
Suggestions: the adventurous could take a look at Simon Property Group (SPG). SPG also just closed a large equity offering, but dividends were not cut and management said recently that SPG would resume paying all cash dividends in early 2010 (SPG is currently paying dividends in stock, click here for a complete list of REITs paying dividends in stock). SPG owns a portfolio quality assets in good locations, and they have cash to pick up more.
Apartment REITs will benefit from tighter single family lending standards, very favorable long-term demographic trends, and a precipitous drop in the construction of new apartment stock. Check out Mid-America Apartments (MAA), which will definitely be the best performing Apartment REIT for 2009. Equity Residential (EQR) is another Apartment REIT that reported solid Q1 earnings. The Fed’s plunge into CMBS via TALF is causing lots of intrigue in the Mortgage REIT world, particularly with Dynex (DX) which invests in both agency and non-agency RMBS and CMBS. Data: Piping Rock Partners
Disclosures: None at the time of publication