Alex Pettee, CFA
Fed In Focus • Home Sales Slip • Hotel Recovery
U.S. equity markets rebounded Friday- but ended the week with modest declines- as investors assessed hawkish Fed commentary and lackluster economic data including a ninth-straight monthly decline in home sales.
Recovering after a two-day decline, the S&P 500 advanced 0.5% today- trimming its weekly decline to 0.6%- while the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished flat today to end the week lower by 1.1%.
Real estate equities were among the leaders today with the Equity REIT Index advancing 1.2% with 17-of-18 property sectors in positive territory while the Mortgage REIT Index gained 0.6%.
The lackluster week of economic data continued this morning with a weaker-than-expected reading on the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index, which fell for an eighth straight month in October.
Existing Home Sales declined for a ninth-straight month in October, dipping 5.9% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million. Supply levels remain near historically low levels, however, helping to buoy home values amid pressure from higher rates.
Income Builder Daily Recap
U.S. equity markets rebounded Friday - but still ended the week with modest declines - as investors assessed hawkish Federal Reserve commentary and lackluster economic data including a ninth-straight monthly decline in home sales. Rebounding from a two-day decline, the S&P 500 advanced 0.5% today - trimming its weekly decline to 0.6% - while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 finished flat today to end the week lower by 1.1%. The 10-Year Treasury Yield climbed 4 basis points to close the week at 3.82% - essentially unchanged from the prior week while the 10-2 Yield Curve remained near its deepest inversion since 1982. Real estate equities were among the leaders today with the Equity REIT Index advancing 1.2% with 17-of-18 property sectors in positive territory while the Mortgage REIT Index gained 0.6%.
The lackluster week of economic data continued this morning with a weaker-than-expected reading on the Conference Board's Leading Economic Index, which fell for an eighth straight month in October which CB noted: "reflects consumers' worsening outlook amid high inflation and rising interest rates, as well as declining prospects for housing construction and manufacturing." On that note, the NAR reported this morning that Existing Home Sales declined for a ninth-straight month in October, dipping 5.9% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.43 million - the slowest sales pace since 2011 excluding the brief dip during the pandemic shutdown. Helping to offset the downward pressure on prices, however, is the still-tight inventory levels that remain near historic lows. Inventory levels represented just 3.3 months of supply even at the reduced sales rate.
We'll publish a full analysis and commentary of this week's developments in the real estate industry, as well as an analysis of the busy week of economic data in our Real Estate Weekly Outlook this weekend.
Real Estate Daily Recap
Best & Worst Performance Today Across the REIT Sector
Hotel: Xenia Hotels (XHR) rallied nearly 4% today after announcing an expanded share buyback program, increasing the total repurchase authorization to $173M. Elsewhere, Apple Hospitality (APLE) - which we own in the REIT Dividend Growth Portfolio - advanced more than 3% after holding its monthly dividend steady at $0.08/share, representing a forward yield of nearly 6% - the highest in the hotel REIT sector. Recent TSA Checkpoint data has indicated that domestic travel throughput has remained quite strong into the critical Holiday travel season as a recovery in business travel has offset a moderation in leisure demand in recent months.
Today, we published our State of the REIT Nation Report on the Income Builder Marketplace which analyzes high-level commercial real estate fundamentals through the recently-released NAREIT T-Tracker data. Of note, private real estate markets are finally "catching-up" to reality of sharply higher interest rates which have been reflected in public real estate markets for several quarters. Green Street Advisors' data shows that private-market values of commercial real estate properties have dipped nearly 13% over the past six months after a historically sharp 8% decline in October alone. Due to conservative balance sheet management over the past decade, REITs have been able to "hunker down" during this period of rising rates - avoiding the type of dilutive and high-cost capital raises that were necessary during the Financial Crisis. Obscured by the macro narrative, REIT property-level fundamentals have remained quite strong in recent quarters.
Last Friday we published our REIT Earnings Recap: Rents Paid, Dividends Raised. Nearly 200 REITs and a dozen homebuilders have reported third-quarter earnings results over the past three weeks, providing critical information on the state of the U.S. real estate industry. REIT earnings season was surprisingly strong across nearly all property sectors. Of the REITs that provide guidance, nearly two-thirds raised their full-year FFO outlook alongside another two dozen dividend hikes. During third-quarter earnings season, the Equity REIT Index outperformed the broader S&P 500 by nearly 10 percentage points while Mortgage REITs outperformed by over 15 percentage points. Earnings results from Shopping Center, Industrial, and Net Lease REITs were most impressive - accounting for exactly half of the 58 guidance hikes. Residential and technology REIT results were more hit-and-miss - accounting for half of the 14 downward guidance revisions. Read the full report here.
Mortgage REIT Daily Recap
Yesterday we published Mortgage REITs: High Yields Are Fine, For Now. Mortgage REITs - which were left for dead amid a historically brutal year across fixed-income markets - have rebounded in recent weeks as earnings results were not as catastrophic as feared. Mortgage REITs are now outperforming Equity REITs for the year, and we continue to see value in a modest allocation towards higher-quality mREITs in a balanced income-focused real estate portfolio. Despite paying average dividend yields in the mid-teens, the majority of mREITs were able to cover their dividends as improved earnings power from wider investment spreads offset book value declines, but we flagged a handful of mREITs with payout ratios above 100% of EPS.
Per the REIT Rankings Tracker available to Income Builder subscribers, mortgage REITs rebounded today with residential mREITs advancing 0.2% while commercial mREITs gained 1.1%. Upside standouts today included Granite Point (GPMT), Apollo Commercial (ARI), and Arbor Realty (ABR).
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