- January 1, 2016: Vol. 3, Number 1

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Investors Have Their Reservations: Lodging REITs trading below asset value are creating merger and buyback opportunities

by Susan Persin

Word emerged Nov. 16 that Hyatt is in talks to buy hotel operator Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in a deal that could be worth $17 billion. While neither company is a REIT, the transaction is emblematic of what is happening in the sector, where hotel REITs that are trading below the value of their underlying assets are creating an opportunity for mergers, acquisitions and buybacks.

After beating third quarter consensus earnings estimates, the largest lodging REIT, Host Hotels and Resorts, authorized an additional $500 million for share repurchases, bringing total 2015 authorizations to about $1 billion. Its shares rose 4 percent after earnings were announced, but share values are still down more than 25 percent year-to-date.

In another reaction to REITs trading below asset value, Blackstone announced in October a $6 billion deal to privatize Strategic Hotels and Resorts.

Lodging REIT returns are down more than 20 percent during 2015. The downward slide of

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