Clubbed By The Fed? REITs, Like The S&P 500 Index, Are Getting Clubbed By The Fed’s Rate Hike Expectations

As The Federal Reserve seems hellbent on raising interest rates to fight the rapid increases caused by Biden’s follicies, we see the S&P 500 index taking a hit in 2022, but NAREIT’s all equity index as well.

An example of how a REIT can be impacted by The Fed is the Industrial REIT index that tanked with Amazon’s declining earnings prospects.

While industrial REITs is a broad category, Amazon’s crashing EPS has certainly shocked the market.

Retail REITs? How about Simon Properties? Simon Properties, a large mall REIT, go “Fauci’d” as the Covid economic shutdown really caused pain for shopping malls. Simon’s occupancy rate has increased as the economy opens back up (we hope).

Meanwhile, Simon Properties equity has declined along with the S&P 500 index as The Fed raises rates. In other words, both the S&P 500 and shopping mall REITs are getting “Fauci’d” by The Fed. Or Powell’d.

Clubbed by The Fed.

Inflation Nation! Commercial Real Estate Returns UP 22% YoY For Q4 2021 (Versus 19.66% YoY For Case-Shiller National Home Price Index)

Inflation is burning out of control. While home price growth has been off the cherts (as Jean-Ralphio would say), commercial real estate has jumped incredibly at 22% YoY. The Bloomberg charting function hasn’t updated for the Q4 NCREIF report yet so I had to manually write-in 22% on the following chart.

To quote Dean Martin, “Ain’t that a kick in the head.” Commercial real estate returns are now higher than house price growth.

So, what will happen IF The Fed follows through with its monetary stimulus reduction? JPMC’s Jaime Dimon warns that The Fed could hike 7 times in 2022 and not be ‘sweet and gentle’.

But The Fed seems to be stuck in underworld and doing a terrible job at signalling their intentions if Dimon thinks that The Fed could raise rates 7 times in 2022.

Real Estate Hedge Against Inflation? Housing And REITs Did Better Than Inflation, NCREIF Not So Much

Now that inflation has reared its ugly head, how can investors protect themselves against the ravages of inflation?

Back in 1977, Fama and Schwert showed that housing acted as a hedge against inflation. Over the past year as inflation has reached its highest levels in 40 years, home prices have outpaced inflation by 19.08% to 6.8%.

How about real estate investment trusts? The NAREIT all-equity index rose by 35.6% YoY while inflation rose at 6.8%. The S&P 500 index rose 28.9% YoY.

Of course, the NAREIT all-equity index has a beta of 1.276.

How about the NCREIF All-property commercial real estate index? For Q3, the NCREIF property index rose by 5.22%, less than the most recent inflation reading of 6.8%.

So for the past year, housing has beaten the pants-off inflation, REITs have earned a higher return than inflation, and the NCREIF index seems to be rising slower than inflation (but with its lag problems, I anxiously await the Q4 numbers which should be higher.

Retail REITs TRIPLE Whammy: House Bubble Burst, Online Shopping, COVID

It is tough to operate a retail Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in the face of the triple whammy that hit retail shopping. First, there was the housing bubble/subprime crisis of 2008-2009. Then there was the advent of on-line shopping, then COVID.

I look at the NAREIT retail index and two retail REITs for comparison: Simon Property Group and Washington REIT. And as a proxy for online shopping, I compare them to Amazon. Both Washington REIT and the NAREIT retail index were at loft valuations at the peak of the housing bubble, but crashed with the onset of the housing bubble burst and ensuing financial crisis. But following The Great Recession, both recovered by 2016 (along with Simon Property Group which actually far exceeded their pre-Great Recession peak.

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But then retail mall disaster struck. In the form of on-line shopping. I use Amazon to represent on-line shopping. While NAREIT Retail and Simon fell from their 2016 peak, Washington REIT got clobbered.

Then Covid struck. When combined with on-line shopping and fear mongering by Anthony Fauci, retail REITs got hit hard. But all three have rebounded slightly since their nadir in 2020.

An interesting case study is Glimcher REIT, a formerly privately-held commercial real estate development company from Columbus Ohio. Like other retail REITs, Glimcher was crushed by the financial crisis and Great Recession. Glimcher’s share price fought back to $14.06 per share (down considerably from $29.28 in February 2007).

Washington Prime Group Inc. acquired Glimcher Realty Trust for $4.3 Billion in stock and cash Including the assumption of Glimcher’s debt. Right as on-line shopping took off. And the Covid struck a death blow leaving Washington Prime trading at $0.98. Washington REIT is transforming into a multifamily REIT given the overbuilding of DC area office space and the triple whammy of retail centers.

Retail REITs have almost recovered from Covid, thanks to the massive monetary stimulus from The Federal Reserve. Not to mention fiscal stimulus from DC.

Yup, a triple whammy has hit retail REITs with some faring better than others.

But the NAREIT RESIDENTIAL Index has exploded with Fed stimulus.

Well done, Pazuzu Powell!