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US REIT share repurchase activity tapers off in Q2

Publicly traded U.S. equity real estate investment trusts repurchased approximately $727.1 million worth of common shares during the second quarter, down 22.7% compared to the amount repurchased in the first quarter and 41.4% less than the $1.24 billion of shares bought back in the year-ago period.

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The hotel sector repurchased the most shares during the quarter, at $242.6 million. Lodging REIT Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. repurchased the large majority of that amount, buying back nearly 11 million common shares at a weighted average of $18.32 apiece — equating to more than $200 million in total, the most of any equity REIT.

CorePoint Lodging Inc. repurchased about $17.9 million of common stock during the quarter, and DiamondRock Hospitality Co. bought back $10.0 million.

As of Sept. 5, the SNL U.S. REIT Hotel index traded at a market-cap-weighted 16.9% discount to consensus net-asset-value-per-share estimates.

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The regional mall sector followed, largely due to Simon Property Group Inc.'s $176.3 million of shares repurchased during the quarter. Brookfield Property REIT Inc. was the only other regional mall REIT to use its share repurchase plan during the quarter, buying back 200,000 shares of its class B-1 stock, as well as 647,250 shares of class A common stock, for about $16.0 million in aggregate.

Communications REIT SBA Communications Corp. repurchased approximately $94.6 million of its common stock, while office-focused SL Green Realty Corp. bought back $75.1 million of its shares.

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Farmland REIT Farmland Partners Inc. repurchased nearly 2 million shares of its common stock under its share repurchase program during the quarter, or roughly 6.3% of its total common shares outstanding — the largest percentage of any U.S. equity REIT. Since the inception of the REIT's share repurchase program in March 2017, Farmland Partners has bought back about 15% of its common shares, or approximately 5.7 million shares, CEO Paul Pittman said during the REIT's second quarter earnings call.

Ground lease-oriented iStar Inc. followed, repurchasing approximately 5.9% of its total common shares outstanding during the quarter for roughly $39.1 million.

Fifteen new share repurchase programs or extensions to existing programs were announced during the first six months of the year. Simon Property's $2 billion program launched in February marked the largest REIT buyback program of the year, followed by timber REIT Weyerhaeuser Co.'s $500 million share repurchase plan approved in February.

Three plans were announced in the second quarter. Apple Hospitality REIT Inc.'s board approved an extension of its $360 million buyback plan in May, while single-tenant retail REIT VEREIT Inc. started its new $200 million repurchase plan in May, and healthcare REIT Healthcare Realty Trust Inc. launched its $50 million program in April.

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