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Will Equity Residential (EQR) Benefit from Property Sales?

We updated our research report on Equity Residential EQR on May 27, 2016.

Last month, Chicago, IL-based Equity Residential reported normalized funds from operations (FFO) per share of 76 cents for first-quarter 2016, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate but down from the prior-year quarter figure of 79 cents.

Quarterly results at this residential real estate investment trust (REIT) were primarily driven by higher same store net operating income (NOI) and NOI from non-same store properties presently in lease up. However, the positives were marred by the dilution impact of the company’s 2016 asset sales.

Notably, Equity Residential opted for a substantial sale of its portfolio in recent times, with its dispositions worth over $6 billion. The sale of the Starwood portfolio together with the other 2016 dispositions resulted in the company's exit from the South Florida and Denver markets and should eventually complete its planned exit from the Phoenix market as well as specific New England submarkets.

These assets sales are expected to help in focusing exclusively on its core, high-density urban markets. However, the earnings dilution effect from such a move is impossible to avoid in the near term.

Nevertheless, Equity Residential is expected to gain from its efforts to reposition its portfolio in high barrier-to-entry/core markets, growth in the millennial population that has a higher propensity to rent, lifestyle transformation and creation of new households.

But an elevated level of deliveries of new supply is a concern for Equity Residential. In particular, markets like Washington D.C., New York and Boston are experiencing a rise in supply. As a result, new leasing is anticipated to face pressure and pricing might be affected in such regions with elevated supply.

Moreover, in the past seven days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2016 remains unchanged at $3.11 while that for 2017 fell a cent to $3.29. The stock presently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Investors interested in the REIT industry may consider stocks like Armada Hoffler Properties, Inc. AHH, Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc. ELS and Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp. SBY. Each of these stocks carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Note: FFO, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, is obtained after adding depreciation and amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

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EQUITY RESIDENT (EQR): Free Stock Analysis Report
EQUITY LIFESTYL (ELS): Free Stock Analysis Report
SILVER BAY RLTY (SBY): Free Stock Analysis Report
ARMADA HOFFLER (AHH): Free Stock Analysis Report
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