Another day where the problems of the PIIGS, gyrating interest rates, skyrocketing unemployment and vacancies, imploding housing starts, and other assorted ills are totally shucked off by the favored "must own" sectors: REITs, retail, and financials.
Anyone notice that Michelle C-Squared has been gradually dolling up for the inevitable Dow 11,000? Hate to sound like a broken record, but it appears that each day we have another round of breakouts in the retail and REIT sector, as if fund managers are giddy at the prospect of Michelle losing a few buttons on her blouse on Monday.
Another horrific reversal of the "risk-on" / "risk-off" trade today, as investors were spooked over the possible financial implosion of Greece. And in today's "mouseclick" world, hedge fund managers hit the "eject" button and sold anything and everything related to emerging markets and piled into safety assets.
Following the empirical evidence that banks share price moves are outstripping their fundamental performance, I have decided to run the same analysis with REITs that have beat the S&P 500.
I don't know if it has been officially declared here or not, so I will say it explicitly. Since Wall Street DOES NOT charge for their research, it is essentially a loss leader for sales. We all know this, yet we pretend that it does not happen. Well, it does. It's pervasive. It's explicit. It's now! The goal of Wall Street research is not to enrich the retail or institutional brokerage client, but to pave the way for the underwriting, sales and trading departments. Go ahead. Prove me wrong. I dare 'ya.
The recent bear rally has driven most of the solvent, semi-solvent and absolutely insolvent CRE stocks up, quite a few approaching 100%, while their macro outlook has deteriorated significantly, along with their fundamentals. Quite a few have actually acted in cahoots with the banks that held their increasingly worthless debt, having issued secondary offerings basically converting the bank holdings of debt that didn't have an icicles chance in the hottest portion of Hell of getting repaid, into worthless toilet paper, heretofore marketed as stock certificates. They have also begun offering this used toilet paper as dividends. If this isn't the sector screaming for me to come back and short it, I don't know what is.
"The amateur investor is going to get hit badly again because they're pouring money into these funds. Some of these funds managers I do not think are experienced enough to handle some of the distressed stuff they're buying and they're going to get burned." - Carl Icahn
It is sad that modern capital markets have gotten to a point when neither fundamental nor technical analysis matters. The only question is how many dollars with the Federal Reserve print tomorrow and how higher will that push stocks. For those deluded amongst you who still believe 10,000x EV/EBITDA is marginally to quite-marginally rich, and don't feel like chasing trends and passing the hot potato to the latest Down syndrome afflicted E-Trade client, here are some observations on arguably the most overbought (by a metric mile) sector, REITs, courtesy of masters of the (metric) universe, Goldman Sachs.
"Many of the issues that are cropping up in the ongoing wave of REIT and real estate restructurings
and bankruptcies are novel, and many of the issues that arise in bankruptcy in the
ordinary course have not been previously applied to the complex real estate financing structures
created in recent years. It is important to appreciate, but not to exaggerate, the hazards now facing
both lenders and borrowers." - Wachtell Lipton
RJ analyst Paul Puryear creates new words to describe his enthusiasm. Objectivity and OED butchering ensues, and even Mark Haynes is confused.
Oddly enough, Jefferson county which got into a dash of trouble buying some interest rate swap or another without reading the prospectus which despite guaranteeing perpetual appreciation distinctly said in the invisible print that total loss of principal is another side effect of transacting with Wall Street, has apparently been unable to participate in today's 175/75 L/S unwind which blew the REITs into the stratosphere and got Bob Pisani's panties in a bunch.
Straight from the horse's mouth, viewers can gleen the most "unbiased" perspective on the strength of the REIT market, who the investors are who are so happy to throw their money on the REIT equity offering bandwagon, and just how many more waves (after waves) of follow ons can be expected.
Compliments of Ron Sturzenegger, MD and Global Head of Real Estate, Gaming and Lodging and Jeff Horowitz, Managing Director & Head of Americas Real Estate And Loding, both at Merrill/BofA.
The PPIP is all but dead. But don't tell that to perma-CRE-bull Barry Sternlicht. The owner of such debacles as iStar (last time we checked the all time worst name in the IG11 index) and RevPar plummeting hotel chain Starwood hotels, is hoping to raise brand spanking new capital via an IPO for, of all things, a new REIT - Starwood Properties Trust, and use taxpayer money to buy other bankrupt hotels.
Jonathan Litt, formerly a top rated REIT analyst with Paine Webber and Solly, has some words of caution for all investors who can't wait to part with their cash and invest in ghost town malls, foreclosing multi-apartment buildings, unretnable offices with a 0.5x DSCR and 10%-full Vegas hotels. Ironically, this comes from a CNBC interview.
In a research piece titled "REITs Cutting Residential Rents, Setting Stage for Further CPI Disinflation" Goldman Sachs analysts conclude that based on recent declining rent trends from residential REITs, the impact on price levels in the housing market (especially in major metropolitan centers where rent are only just now starting to unravel) will get progressively adverse, but will also feed ongoing general asset deflationary pressures, and by implication, added weakness to REIT cash flow. From Goldman: