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Evercore upgrades Forest City Realty; Mizuho initiates First Industrial Realty

Upgrade

Evercore ISI analysts Sheila McGrath and Nathan Crossett upgraded Forest City Realty Trust Inc. to "outperform" from "in line," following the company's conclusion of a strategic review process whereby it opted to remain a stand-alone entity and revamp its board instead of pursuing a sale. They kept their price target on the company's stock at $25 per share.

The diversified real estate investment trust attracted broad buyer interest, but there was no "no-brainer offer that was a clear choice for the board," the analysts said in a March 26 note. The analysts said they think the final buyout offer of $25 per share with contingencies could have presented a downside risk. It also would have posed an execution risk, given that the offer was lower than consensus net-asset-value estimates and was below a 52-week high for the company's shares, the pair said.

"We believe there is more limited downside at current levels and believe the strategic plan to deleverage and continue to improve overhead costs and margins should be a means to drive value and reduce the excessive discount valuation," the analysts said in the note, adding that investors will likely begin to recognize the company's embedded growth opportunity with a "simpler Forest City, enhanced governance and sharpened focus."

Initiation

Mizuho Securities USA LLC's Richard Anderson launched coverage of First Industrial Realty Trust Inc. with a "neutral" rating and a price target on the company's stock of $31 per share.

Anderson said in a March 26 note that he believes the industrial REIT is now "more opportunistically positioned" after a portfolio and balance sheet repositioning. With respect to valuation, the analyst sees the company's stock as trading more "at the relatively cheap side of the ledger," but he argued that "it isn't an overwhelming consideration either." The analyst also posited that the company's dividend yield is slightly below average, but is likely "extremely safe."

Reiterations

Jefferies analyst Omotayo Okusanya on March 26 reiterated his "buy" rating on Healthcare Trust of America Inc., while increasing his per-share price target on the company's stock to $32 from $31.

The self-managed REIT, which primarily operates medical office buildings and other healthcare facilities, expects acquisitions to remain challenging and projects only $100 million of deals in 2018. However, the company continues to have an attractive internal growth profile with potential upside from occupancy and margin expansion, and its development platform should also prove to be a positive catalyst in the future, the analyst said in a March 26 note.


Morgan Stanley analysts on the same day reiterated their "overweight" rating on Vornado Realty Trust.

Many investors moved to the sidelines following Vornado's ambiguous fourth-quarter 2017 earnings call, where management suggested that the company's redevelopment of One Penn Plaza and Two Penn Plaza might take longer to materialize, among other concerns. However, the primarily office-focused REIT is trading at a hard-to-ignore value of 5.4% of the implied capitalization rate, the analysts said.

Citing higher same-store net operating income, modest near-term softness in the company's street retail business and longer-term catalysts, the analysts lowered their price target on the company's stock by $5 per share, to $78 per share.