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St. Joe Enhances Vacation Rental Program

Zacks Equity Research

The St. Joe Company (JOE) announced the expansion of its vacation rental program and disclosed the launch of its private membership club, St. Joe Club & Resorts. As a result, a broad array of offering of benefits and privileges will now be accessible at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club, WaterSound Beach Club and Camp Creek Golf Club, as well as other St. Joe owned and operated facilities.

With efficiency in managing prized club and resort operations and boosting vacation-rental occupancies in this part of Florida, the company further aims at tapping opportunities and expand its luxury vacation home management operations. It is now offering such services to homeowners in communities down the Highway 30A.

As a matter of fact, St. Joe is making efforts to maximize shareholder value by focusing on its residential resort communities, primary homes, and the active adult residential market. Earlier this month, the company reported its third-quarter 2013 earnings of 5 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 1 cent. Results were mainly driven by lower expenses and growth in revenues from its resorts, leisure and leasing operations.

In particular, revenues from resorts, leisure and leasing operations at St. Joe increased 15.6% year over year to $16.3 million in third-quarter 2013. Higher average room rates, significant number of homes in its vacation rental business as well as the positive impact of commercial leases led to an uptick in the segment’s revenue.

Moreover, its deal for timberland dispositions announced earlier this month augurs well. In particular, the company agreed to sell around 382,834 acres of its non-strategic timberland and rural land in Northwest Florida for $565 million.

The move will aid the company in streamlining focus on its core activity of real estate development in Northwest Florida and the proceeds reaped would enhance its liquidity as well as finance its growth needs.

St. Joe currently has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Investors interested in the real estate industry may also consider stocks like E-House (China) Holdings Ltd. (EJ), Gazit-Globe, Ltd. (GZT) and Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. (MITEY). While E-House (China) holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Gazit-Globe and Mitsubishi Estate carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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