Even before it launched three years ago, Brentwood real estate investment trust Hudson Pacific Properties sought investments up and down the West Coast.
Yet until last week, Hudson was California only, acquiring local landmarks such as Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.
The company moved forward on its broader ambitions last week with the announcement that it bought an office portfolio in Seattle for $368 million. The deal, Hudson’s first outside California, is for three buildings totaling 836,000 square feet; the seller was Spear Street Capital of San Francisco.
“We’ve always been looking to create a West Coast REIT,” said Hudson Chief Executive Victor J. Coleman. “We’ve been looking at the Seattle market for over four years.”
Coleman said Hudson had passed on previous opportunities in Seattle because they were for single buildings or very small portfolios.
“We were looking for a deal to give us a solid foundation in Seattle and this was it,” he said.
Yet the deal met a tough reception on Wall Street. Hudson’s share price barely budged, trading in a narrow range and closing at $21.21 on July 3. In addition, a couple of analysts were unimpressed, saying the properties will only generate incremental income increases.
“The yield, based on our initial forecast, appears modest, and therefore we don’t see sizable earnings accretion … at least in the near term,” Brendan Maiorana, analyst with the Baltimore office of Wells Fargo Securities, said in a July 1 note just after the deal was announced.
Analyst Richard Anderson of BMO Capital Markets in New York said the deal was “initially expensive.”
In a research note, he said the competitive nature of the Seattle marketplace has kept lease rates down, giving Hudson an initial capitalization rate of just 5 percent, well below the double-digit returns real estate investors hope for.
But Coleman said income from the properties might grow over time.
“We’ve got phenomenal tenants in these properties that are paying below market rents,” he said. “We see upside potential in the next round of lease negotiations.”
Shares of real estate investment trust have taken a hammering in recent weeks as long-term interest rates have started climbing.
REITs have become less attractive as investors now have other places to put their money, said Dennis Harris, a real estate trust analyst in the New York office of L.A.’s Imperial Capital LLP. Rising interest rates also mean higher borrowing costs, lowering the return the trusts can realize on their properties.
Hudson’s stock has fallen 11 percent from its peak of nearly $24 a share May 21, a figure in line with drops at other REITs.
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