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Mack-Cali Exits Flex Business, Sells 56-Building Portfolio

Zacks Equity Research

Mack-Cali Realty Corporation CLI recently exited the flex-warehouse business with the disposition of its remaining 56-building flex portfolio. In fact, the company has entered into two definitive agreements with a buyer to sell its 3.1 million-square-foot office/flex portfolio, for $487.5 million. The transaction will likely close in second-quarter 2019.

Part of sale proceeds from this transaction will be used to repay nearly $230 million of unsecured debt. Remaining balances will be used to fund the acquisition of a 377-unit apartment community — Soho Lofts. Subsequent to the end of 2018, Mack-Cali signed a contract to acquire the newly-developed and stabilized residential property in Jersey City for $263.5 million.

In fact, on Dec 31, 2018, the company initiated the first phase of its flex portfolio sale with the disposition of Elmsford Distribution Center in Westchester County, NY, for $70.25 million. Sale proceeds were used to pay down outstanding balances on the company’s debts borrowed by Mack-Cali for boosting its multi-family platform.

Per management, the disposition of its office/flex portfolio marks the completion of the company’s portfolio-repositioning strategy.  Notably, it has been simultaneously investing in its office properties in Jersey City and strengthening the multi-family platform on the waterfront through development initiatives.

These efforts highlight the company’s strategy to timely divest the non-core office properties which are no longer in line with its long-term goals. In fact, as part of the company’s portfolio-streamlining efforts, Mack-Cali has been aggressively disposing its assets for the past few years. In 2018, the company completed $385 million of non-core asset sales (excluding land).

Furthermore, for full-year 2019, the company estimates $155-$180 million of dispositions, excluding its flex properties. While the measures are a strategic fit for the long run, the dilutive impact on earnings from such huge asset sales cannot be bypassed in the near term.

In fact, in the recently-reported quarter, its same-store cash net operating income (NOI) shrunk owing to tenant move-outs and lost income from asset sales undertaken as part of its disposition program. The company witnessed year-over-year decline in core funds from operations (FFO) per share and revenues.

In the past three months, shares of this Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) company have underperformed its industry. While the stock has edged down 0.4%, the industry has rallied 6.1% during the same time period.

Key Picks

Better-ranked stocks from the REIT space are Terreno Realty Corporation TRNO, Alexandria Real Estate Equities ARE and Boston Properties, Inc. BXP. All three stocks carry a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Terreno Realty’s FFO per share estimates for first-quarter 2019 have been revised marginally upward to 35 cents in a month’s time. Further, it has a long-term growth rate of 8.40%.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ Zacks Consensus Estimate for first-quarter 2019 FFO per share was marginally revised upward to $1.67 over the past week. Also, it has a long-term growth rate of 4.40%.

Boston Properties’ FFO per share estimates for the ongoing quarter have been revised marginally north to $1.65 in a month’s time. Additionally, it has a long-term growth rate of 6.20%.

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