Top 3 commercial real estate REITs to avoid amid a triple whammy

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on Mar 23, 2023
Updated: Apr 27, 2023
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  • Commercial real estate REITs have plunged in 2022.
  • Over $500 billion of debt is set to mature this year.
  • Office space valuations is set to drop as demand wanes.

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Commercial real estate REITs have been under intense pressure as the industry faces a tripple whammy of high-interest rates, work-from-home, and white-collar layoffs. On Wednesday, the Fed decided to hike interest rates by 0.25% and signaled that more rate hikes were coming.

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And recent data shows that the percentage of people working from home is still sharply higher than where it was during the pandemic. Worse, many large companies like Amazon, Salesforce, and Meta Platforms are laying off thousands of employees. 

Therefore, with debt maturities coming up, there are concerns that the industry will be in trouble for a while. Further, as I wrote in this article on the SCHD ETF, REITs are now competing with cash, with short-term bonds yielding over 5%. So, these are some of the top commercial real estate REITs to avoid during the sell-off. 

Boston Properties 

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Boston Properties (NYSE: BXP) stock price has been in a strong sell-off in the past few months. It is trading at $49.63, which is about 63% below the highest level in 2022. This decline is mostly because of the cities where the company operates. 

It is mostly concentrated in places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. These are some of the most troubled cities in the commercial real estate industry. In the most recent earnings statement, the company’s CEO said:

“Many of our clients are experiencing a slowdown in growth or reductions in top line revenue and as a result are focused on cost control including moderating headcount and space use.”

Therefore, in the near term, I suspect that the Boston Properties stock price will continue falling as investors embrace the new normal of high interest rates. In the long term, investors will likely buy the dip as the dividend yield become more attractive.

Kilroy Realty Corporation

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Kilroy Realty Corporation’s (NYSE: KRC) stock price has also been in a freefall. It was trading at $29 on Wednesday, sharply lower than its 2022 high of $79. As a result, its forward dividend yield to 7%. 

The stock’s collapse is mostly because of the triple whammy facing the industry and the fact that billions of dollars are coming due. And like Boston Properties, the company’s operations are concentrated in high-risk cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Austin. 

The only benefit for Kilroy is that it has staggered debt maturities, which meaning that it has more room to adjust its books. As a result, it has no debt maturities until December 2024, as the CEO noted:

“Net debt the fourth quarter annualized EBITDA remains about six times. And we have no debt maturities until December of 2024 and limited interest rate exposure with all of our debt fixed or subject to cap.”

Vordano Realty Trust

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Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO) stock price has dropped lower than most commercial real estate trust stocks. It was trading at $13.80, down by over 72% from the highest point in 2022. This performance is mostly because Vornado is highly concentrated in New York, where occupancy rate remains low. 

Like Kilroy, Vornado has no maturities this year, with the next one coming in mid-2024. Still, because of its focus on New York, Vornado stock will likely continue falling in the near term. The other commercial REIT stock we recently recommended exiting was SL Green. It stock is down by over 10% since the article went live.

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