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Which REIT Stocks To Own If We Go Over The Cliff?

 December 27, 2012 04:30 PM

(By Mani) The fiscal cliff remains the biggest item on the economic agenda, and it seems Washington may not get a deal done to avert the tax hikes and spending cuts becoming law on January 1, 2013.

Deutsche Bank's Head of Government Affairs, Frank Kelly, has reduced his expectation that a deal would get done prior to going over the cliff to 40 percent from 60 percent. He thinks there is a 50/50 chance the Democrats get a smaller plan through both houses dealing with the AMT and Doc fixes as well as the Bush tax cuts, and has also been hearing increasing chatter about a 30-day stopgap to buy more time.

In this backdrop, let' see what will happen to Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) stocks when the economy goes over the cliff.

[Related -Will The Dividend And Buyback Frenzy Continue?]

A REIT is a company that owns, and in most cases, operates income-producing real estate. They own many types of commercial real estate, ranging from office and apartment buildings to warehouses, hospitals, shopping centers, and hotels.

Apart from diversity, REITs are also investor friendly as they should pay out at least 90 percent of their taxable income to investors. That's why they carry high P/E ratios and are the favorites among income investors.

"In general, with the potential for another recession, we'd expect the ‘usual suspects' of defensive or more recession-resilient names, such as Public Storage (NYSE: PSA) and American Campus Communities, Inc. (NYSE: ACC), to hold up relatively well," Deutsche Bank analyst John Perry said in a client note.

[Related -Storage REIT Performance And Valuation Comparison]

Within retail, necessity-driven, grocery-anchored shopping centers such as Regency Centers Corp. (NYSE: REG), Equity One Inc. (NYSE: EQY) and Weingarten Realty Investors (NYSE: WRI) would be benefited.

Given solid balance sheet and increasing value-orientation through its expanding outlet center business, Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) may also do well.

"Apartments would likely take a hit, though a resulting recession would probably prevent home ownership rates from rebounding. We'd generally avoid office in such an environment, but if necessary, we'd go for quality, credit and lease duration with a name like Boston Properties Inc. (NYSE: BXP)," Perry added.

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