Hey, did you hear? Interest rates are going up.
You know what that means: We should sell our real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Well, that’s what Wall Street would like you to believe during periods of rising interest rates.
After all, REITs borrow a lot of money, so their borrowing costs will go up and cash flows will shrink, and they might have to cut their dividends.
That urges investors to sell their REITs, then take that cash to go buy bonds, thus dragging REIT prices lower.
I mean, the U.S. Federal Reserve began raising rates in June 2004, going from 1.25% to 5.25% by summer 2006.
That’s a massive increase in just two years and had to have been horrible for REITs.
There’s just one small problem with this thinking, though…
In fact, if you look at the most recent period of rising interest rates, REITs performed exceptionally well.
And it looks like we’re entering yet another period of rising interest rates, in which we can outsmart Wall Street at its own game, collecting profits from undervalued REITs every step of the way…
Wall Street Lies, but the Numbers Never Do
It’s strange how everyone accepts Wall Street’s REIT myth when all they have to do to debunk it is look at the numbers.
During that 2004 to 2006 period, in which rates increased fourfold, REITs saw a total return of 80%. They outperformed the fixed-income alternatives Wall Street told us were a better idea, and they even doubled the stock market’s return over those two years.
Not so shockingly, the accepted wisdom on Wall Street was simply wrong. Those who listened to the Big Bad Banks’ advice missed an opportunity to nearly double their money in less than three years.
To understand how REITs actually perform well during rising rate environments, we have to understand why the Fed hikes rates in the first place.
In essence, the central bank does it to cool off a heated economy and keep inflation in check. Rates only rise when the economy is firing on all cylinders.
A healthy economy means people travel for business, parents take little Timmy to the beach, and hotels are fully booked. Rents and occupancy rates across every real estate class rise. The net asset values of the properties increase and, because REITs are structurally obligated to pay out 90% of their taxable income, dividends will grow as cash flows improve.
Think about how common sense that is: the same conditions that cause rate hikes also cause the real estate business to boom.
I guess common sense is just not that common on Wall Street.
The truth is that REITs are in fantastic shape right now. Cash flows are increasing, property values are stable, debt has been reduced, and the industry has the lowest leverage in 20 years.
After the broad sell-off earlier this year, many REITs trade at a discount to what the properties would be worth in a private sale, and that’s attracting buyers. We have seen several merger and acquisitions deals in the REIT sector in 2018, and I am sure we will see a lot more before the year is over.
But there’s another compelling factor in play right now that’s going to drive real estate prices and REIT values higher…
It’s the fact that the biggest investment-management companies currently have $180 billion in dry powder available for big real estate deals.
Since the end of the credit crisis, these firms have figured out there’s a lot of money to be made via long-term ownership of commercial and residential real estate. They’ve already raised the funds for such investments, and with REITs trading at inexpensive levels right now, it’s likely they’ll be jumping on them soon.
Excellent operating conditions, rising dividends, and high demand from the richest investment firms in the game; I can’t see why anyone in their right mind would follow Wall Street’s REIT advice.
We’re smarter than that – and that’s why we’re going to jump into the sector before prices rebound, starting with this prime REIT investment…
Jump on This REIT Investment Before the Next Rate Hike
I’ve been investing in and recommending REITs for decades, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to finding REITs set for unreasonably high, long-term returns.
Now, I’m notoriously cheap when it comes to investing. I like to buy companies with strong balance sheets at bargain prices and hold them for the long term, because that’s how you make the big profits that indexing or listening to Wall Street advice won’t make you.
The Cohen & Steers REIT and Preferred Fund Inc. (NYSE: RNP) gives me a chance to do just that.
RNP is a closed-end fund, meaning it trades on the NYSE like a regular stock. But unlike a regular stock, the fund has an interest in a range of different REITs.
Right now, I can buy RNP shares for about 11% less than the value of the REIT shares the fund holds. That’s incredible, considering REITs currently trade at a discount to the value of the properties they own, and we’re buying those REITs at an extra 11% discount through the fund.
The fund’s top holdings include REITs that own industrial buildings, regional malls, cell towers, apartments, houses, hotels, and much more. So by investing in RNP, you essentially become a part owner of every single one of those properties.
And since the fund has a strong distribution yield of 7.97%, you get paid directly to own these world-class properties in addition to the fund’s price gains.
You have some smart folks running the portfolio, as well. RNP’s three co-managers – Thomas Bohjalian, William Scapell, and Jason Yablon – have a combined 72 years of experience investing in real estate and real estate securities; they essentially know everything there is to know about the REIT business.
— Tim Melvin
Source: Money Morning