Wednesday, November 12, 2008

REITs Continue to be Gold Mine on Short Side

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Another day, another REIT implosion - these are simply gold mines for shorts. Commerical real estate is in serious trouble since as we keep saying we are just NOW entering the heart of the recession and many of these companies are already struggling - the lack of access to credit markets is devastating for these guys - many of which have a lot of debt to turnover. Today's REIT of the day is Prologis (PLD) whose CEO resigned, dividend is cut, cutting jobs, you name it - the need for cash is desperate.

If you cannot short individual names (like me) I continue to point to Ultrashort Real Estate (SRS) as an easy way to play the whole sector - ironically I bought this too early in fall 2007 as a hedge because I was looking much farther ahead of the market (which was whistling past the graveyard as it sang to new highs in October 2007) but now it's really paid off. Here are the top 10 holdings you are short against with SRS - these are actually some of the stronger players and considering how poorly some are doing it doesn't bode well for the smaller peers.

Top 10 Index Companies1

Weight

Simon Property Group Inc. 7.76%
Vornado Realty Trust 4.69%
Public Storage 4.56%
Equity Residential 4.31%
Boston Properties Inc. 3.99%
ProLogis 3.87%
HCP Inc. 3.59%
Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. REIT 3.08%
Kimco Realty Corp. 2.90%
Avalonbay Communities Inc. 2.71%

Prologis is focused on warehouses and distribution
  • Real estate investment trust ProLogis, which has seen its shares fall by more than half so far in November, on Wednesday said its chief executive was stepping down as the company announced a plan to conserve capital, including a dividend cut.
  • Prologis a global industrial REIT focused on warehouses and distribution, said Jeffrey Schwartz has resigned as the company's CEO and chairman. The REIT also cut its targeted annualized dividend for 2009 to $1 a share from $2.28 to conserve capital, repay debt and shore up the balance sheet
  • ProLogis plans to cut its general and administrative expenses by 20% to 25% by reducing the workforce and business spending, in response to the difficult economic landscape.
  • The REIT does not expect any new development activity "for the foreseeable future" and will not enter new markets "until conditions improve and liquidity returns."
  • "REITs are the most volatile publicly traded equity sector, routinely putting up total daily returns equal to what the sector should logically do in an entire year," wrote Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analysts in a research note this week.
  • "REITs with even the most pristine balance sheets have been damaged," the analysts wrote. "REITs that focus on development have also been singled out for poor performance, especially those with high capital requirements and dependency on construction gains to meet earnings goals."
Long Ultrashort Real Estate in fund and personal account


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