Although hardly in the rearview mirror just yet, the coronavirus pandemic was a massive headwind for real estate investment trusts (REITs) in 2020.
Not all REITs got hit, of course, but some key sectors were deeply impacted, including retail, healthcare, and anything that had an experiential component. Which is why it’s so exciting to see that federal Realty (NYSE: FRT), Welltower (NYSE: WELL), and EPR (NYSE: EPR) managed to beat analyst expectations in the second quarter.
1. Could Have Been Worse
Federal Realty owns strip malls and mixed-use assets, which generally held up pretty well during the pandemic because around 75% of its properties contain grocery stores. That, however, doesn’t mean that the REIT didn’t face its fair share of headwinds, noting that its properties also contain things like restaurants, gyms, and locally owned stores, all of which were hit particularly hard.
At one point, the REIT, and other REITS, were projecting that its occupancy would fall well into the 80% range before starting to rebound. That would have been a tough number to see, given that occupancy was roughly 95% at the end of 2019.
Only that drop didn’t happen. In fact, demand for this landlord’s highly curated portfolio of around 100 or so properties remained fairly robust, and occupancy ended the second half of 2021 just shy of 90%. In fact, the company described its leasing activity as being at “record levels.”
It’s no wonder that its funds from operations (FFO) came in above analyst expectations. The beat was huge, too, with Federal Realty besting consensus by more than $0.25 per share. In defense of analysts here, they are only making educated guesses — even companies don’t really know what they will earn in any given quarter. But it’s clear that Federal Realty is coming out of the pandemic on a strong note.
2. Demographics Won’t Be Denied
Welltower owns senior housing properties, which are purpose-built to bring older people together in a group setting.
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