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SL Green Realty (SLG) to Sell 600 Lexington Avenue for $305M

Zacks Equity Research

SL Green Realty SLG announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell 600 Lexington Avenue, a Midtown Manhattan office building, for a gross consideration of $305 million or $1,005 per square foot.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and will likely close by first-quarter 2018. The deal is anticipated to generate approximately $292 million cash proceeds for SL Green.

Located in the centre of the Plaza District, at the corner of 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue, this property is a 36-story office tower spanning 303,515 square feet of space. SL Green bought this office space in May 2010, through a joint venture, for $193 million and eventually acquired full ownership in December 2015.

SL Green strategically improved the building by putting an extensive renovation plan in place. The overhaul upgraded the entire building, including modernization of the lobby and elevators.

Such transformative redevelopments helped enhance the building’s profile and attract new tenants. Currently, this building is 99% leased. Its impressive tenant roster includes companies such as Element Capital Management, MKP Capital Management and Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young.

Per management, the above-mentioned sale is in line with the company’s efforts to improve its capital position and focus on other assets which exhibit strong occupancy and rental growth. It also reflects the demand for office assets in the Midtown area.

Further, on Nov 14, the companyentered into a contract to sell 43% stake in 1515 Broadway to Allianz Real Estate — the real estate investment division of German-based company Allianz Group. The deal values the Class-A Times Square office property at $1.95 billion and is anticipated to generate $416 million in cash proceeds for SL Green. (Read more: SL Green Signs Deal to Sell 43% Stake in Office Tower)

Shrinking its ownership in non-core assets gives SL Green an opportunity to channelize the proceeds in high-growth properties. The company is New York City's largest commercial landlord, which primarily acquires, manages, develops and leases commercial office properties in the New York Metropolitan area, especially mid-town Manhattan.

However, several big companies are choosing to resize their businesses and contain cost, which are adversely affecting demand for office space. In addition, there is growth in supply of space for office use in the market. These challenges in the office real estate market are expected to have an adverse impact on the company’s shares which have underperformed its industry, year to date. During the period, shares of the company have lost 6.3%, while the industry recorded growth of 6.2%.

SL Green currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Stocks to Consider

Better-ranked stocks in the REIT space include DCT Industrial Trust DCT, Extra Space Storage EXR and National Health Investors NHI. 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.

While DCT Industrial Trust has an expected long-term growth rate of 4.2%, Extra Space Storage has a long-term growth rate of 6%.

National Health Investors currently has a long-term growth rate of 3.8%.

Note: All EPS numbers presented in this report represent funds from operations (FFO) per share. FFO, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, is obtained after adding depreciation and amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

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