Whitestone REIT (WSR) provided an update on its leasing and occupancy details for fourth-quarter 2013 and full-year 2013. During the quarter under review, Whitestone penned 91 new, expansion and renewal lease deals for a total of 236,043 square feet of space.
Notably, the total lease value was $10.8 million in the quarter, slightly down from $11.3 million in the fourth-quarter 2012. Nevertheless, for full-year 2013, the lease value totaled $44.2 million, up 25% from a year-ago.
Higher annual leasing volumes helped in pushing up the occupancy levels at Whitestone’s properties. As of Dec 31, 2013, operating portfolio occupancy stood at 88.1% that was 140 basis points higher than the year-ago figure. Furthermore, overall portfolio occupancy at Whitestone escalated 200 basis points on a year-over-year basis to 86.8%, as of Dec 31, 2013.
Notably, these deals helped in adding 177 new tenants to Whitestone’s roster in the year. The leasing volumes of Whitestone seem decent and are expected to strengthen its top line and boost the tenant base. Moreover, the company has been focusing on expanding its footprint by strategically acquiring commercial properties in high-growth markets. Whitestone mainly targets U.S. properties located in densely populated and culturally diverse submarkets of Texas, Arizona, and Illinois.
In relation to this, in fourth-quarter 2013, Whitestone accomplished the buyout of 2 Arizona-based premium retail centers. These are Market Street at DC Ranch in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills Plaza in Fountain Hills. The inclusion of these high-end assets enhanced the company’s anchors list and bodes well for its long-term growth.
Whitestone currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other players in the REIT-Equity Trust – Other industry, which look attractive at current levels, include Public Storage (PSA), First Industrial Realty Trust Inc. (FR) and PS Business Parks Inc. (PSB). All these stocks carry the same rank as Whitestone.