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Equity Residential Boosts Flexibility With New Credit Facility

Zacks Equity Research

Equity Residential EQR recently fortified the company's financial position by entering into a $2.5 billion multi-currency revolving credit facility, replacing its prior $2-billion credit agreement. The company has also raised the maximum size for its unsecured commercial paper note program from $500 million to $1 billion.

Notably, a total of 22 lenders participated in this $2.5-billion revolving credit facility, indicating their confidence in the residential REIT’s business strength. The latest facility will mature on Nov 1, 2024, and there are provisions to extend or increase it, subject to consent from lenders and customary conditions.

The interest and facility fees will depend on the long-term unsecured credit ratings of the operating partnership. However, the commercial paper notes will rank pari passu with all of the other unsecured senior indebtedness of the operating partnership.

Notably, on the capital front, the company is actively taking advantage of the favorable environment. During the third quarter, it issued $600 million of unsecured notes at a coupon rate of 2.5% and a yield of 2.56%. This marked the lowest ten-year yield in the company’s as well as the REIT industry’s histories.

Such strategic measures are aimed at strengthening the company’s outstanding balance sheet, liquidity and financial flexibility. This will help it enjoy greater liquidity for day-to-day operations and support its growth endeavors.

Last month, Equity Residential reported better-than-expected results for the third quarter, highlighting improved same-store net operating income (NOI) and lease-up NOI, and other non-same store NOI. Further, transaction activities in 2018 and 2019 had a positive impact on the company’s NOI and it produced the highest resident retention in its history.

Equity Residential is poised for growth amid job-market gains, favorable demographics, lifestyle transformation, and creation of households. The company is anticipated to benefit from its portfolio-repositioning efforts in high barrier-to-entry/core markets.

During the recently-reported quarter, Equity Residential acquired four apartment properties in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and suburban Denver, aggregating 1,084 apartment units. This purchase was made for around $489.9 million, at a weighted average Acquisition Capitalization Rate of 4.4%. Furthermore, the company completed a 137-apartment unit property in Seattle as well as an 84-apartment unit property in Cambridge, MA. Such expansion efforts bode well for long-term growth.

However, new apartment supply across its markets might partly impede the company’s growth momentum in the future, straining lease rates, occupancy and retention, and lead to use of high concessions.

Over the past three months, shares of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company have outperformed the industry it belongs to. In fact, its shares have gained 5.8% compared with the industry’s rally of 5.7% during the same time frame.



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