An under-the-radar trend has popped up, Cramer said Monday, that no one has noticed. A number of real estate investment trusts that issued new shares have jumped considerably since then. It’s no wonder that investors aren’t paying attention since everyone thought this group was all but dead. But that just means there’s more opportunity for the rest of us.
See, Wall Street assumed there was no way for the REITs to refinance, and therefore relieve themselves of their terrible debt burden. But every time they hold a secondary offering and raise money it puts these shareholder-friendly real estate companies in position to do just that – refinance. That in turn pushes the stocks higher and the REITs get to raise even more money.
So far 20 REITs with a market capitalization of over $500 million have issued a second round of shares, and 10 of those are up more than 10% from the last closing price before the secondary was announced. Six are down, but only one has slipped more than 10%, Health Care REIT, which invests in senior housing facilities. HCN President Raymond W. Braun resigned in January, and investors are worried about how President Obama’s health-care plans will affect the company. But the overall trend here shows that high-quality companies in this group that hold offerings seem to rebound nicely.
Cramer likes Boston Properties , which just held an oversubscribed secondary on Friday, June 5, as play on this. The offering allowed the firm to sell 15 million shares rather than the 12.1 million they’d originally planned, with the underwriters buying another 2.3 million. BXP set the price at $50, just 31 cents below the previous closing price, and the stock is up only 43 cents since then. Cramer sees the potential for a big run in Boston Properties.
Mort Zuckerman, the well-known real estate investor, owns BXP. The company operates mostly Class A properties in Boston, Manhattan, Princeton, N.J., San Francisco and Washington D.C. In fact, the US government is the largest tenant, taking up 5% of BXP’s rentable space.
Zuckerman’s firm played it smart, selling properties into the commercial real estate bull market – $4.5 billion worth – and bought just a few. So BXP never paid up for its buildings, and that offers more flexibility than other REITs when it tries to sell.
The great thing about REITs is that they are much like the oil and gas sector’s master limited partnerships, meaning they distribute much of their profits to shareholders. Right now BXP pays out a 5.4% dividend yield. There has been talk that the quarterly dividend could be cut to 50 cents a share from 68 cents, but that would still amount to a 4% yield. Considering the expected cash flows and funds from operations in the $4-a-share range, that’s still pretty good.
So BXP offers investors a number of play: that yield, Mort Zuckerman’s excellent management, a move higher for New York real estate and the trend in REIT secondary offerings. Cramer said the stock is worth consideration for any and all of these reasons.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Health Care REIT's CEO, George L. Chapman, had recently resigned. It was former President Raymond W. Braun who resigned, in January 2009.
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