As conditions in the housing and credit markets unfold, certain real estate investment trusts are positioned for solid financial performance.
Ken AvalosRaymond James (727) [email protected]
Paul D. PuryearRaymond James (727) [email protected]
REIT Outlook: We expect 6-8% funds from operations (FFO) growth annually over the next two years (although we acknowledge there is some risk to this projection) and when combined with 4-5% dividend yields, which are also growing, this would normally extrapolate into a 10-12% total return in 2008. But as you might suspect, there is quite a bit more to this story in the current environment.
Fundamentally, we like the outlook for commercial real estate. We see little threat in new supply but are less sanguine when it comes to demand as we believe recent economic data points foretell at best a significant slowdown in growth and the odds for an outright recession seem to increase daily.
But as we write this report we are in the “muddle through” camp, albeit with slower GDP growth in 2008 than the 2.1% consensus of the 66-economists survey published by Bloomberg. We think 1.0-2.0% growth is a more likely scenario, enough to sustain moderate commercial real estate tenant demand. The housing market, which we track extensively, is a long way from staging a recovery in our view, and overhangs any economic outlook, along with the credit issues that have roiled the debt markets.
Unfortunately the investment outlook for REITs, and almost everything else, will not clear up until the credit markets stabilize and confidence rises in the outlook for economic growth. We think both will likely happen as we get past mid-year 2008 and have a better view of the ultimate impact of the 2 million mortgage loans that are scheduled to reset over the next 24 months.
Based on this view, we recommend that investors market weight the REIT sector within their respective portfolios, and depending on investors individual economic outlook and risk tolerance, balance their respective allocations across the property types accordingly.
We believe the data historically supports the contention that the real estate cycle runs seven years peak to trough and seven years trough to peak. It’s not a stretch for us to believe that four years into this up-cycle may leave four or five more years of general up-cycle trends depending on how this mid-cycle correction plays out. We think this expectation combined with the catalysts of a lower 10-year yield benchmark, reasonable earnings growth and the return of the M&A market may be enough to extend the investment horizon for the stocks.
National Retail Properties (NNN) Outlook: The company recently reported third quarter operating results, delivering FFO (funds from operations) per share of $0.46 versus our estimate of $0.44 and the Street’s consensus of $0.45. The upside from our model was driven primarily by gains on inventory portfolio sales as well as a slightly better G&A result than we modeled.
Management increased the low end of its 2007 FFO guidance by one penny to $1.84-1.87 per share and introduced 2008 FFO guidance of $1.94-$2.00 per share. Our FFO/share estimates are essentially unchanged, with 2007 now at $1.87 (+$0.01) and our 2008 estimate now $1.99 (-$0.01), and represent 12% and 7% year-over-year growth respectively.
National Retail continues to reap the benefits of the company’s focus on retail consolidators or retailers in fast growth sectors. Management continues to do an outstanding job with sourcing accretive acquisitions, and with solid FFO growth prospects and an attractive 6% dividend yield, the risk/reward equation appears favorable for NNN shares. We maintain our Outperform rating on NNN shares, and we are re-establishing our price target at $25 per share.