NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Citigroup is recommending that investors buy up more recovery-oriented real estate investment trusts. Those include residential and self-storage REITs, as well as lodging operators ¿ riskier stocks to hold in a recession precipitated by a housing crisis and drops in discretionary spending and business travel. Analyst Michael Bilerman in a research note Friday upgraded two residential REITs. Despite weak employment and a slowly recovering housing sector, he said Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc., which operates common facilities such as clubhouses, swimming pools and golf courses in vacation areas, and UDR Inc., which develops apartment complexes, were appropriate for longterm investors as job losses slow and consumer spending stabilizes. He upgraded Equity Lifestyle to "Buy" from "Hold" and UDR to "Hold" from "Sell." Bilerman downgraded apartment property operator Apartment Investment & Management Co. to "Sell" from "Hold," however, saying its stock price is more expensive than other apartment REITs. Equity Lifestyle rose $2.10, or 5.1 percent, to $43.70; UDR added 53 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $15.18; and Apartment Investment & Management gained 17 cents to $14.27.
Bilerman also said investors should look into lodging REITs, as improving hotel demand will result in strong earnings growth, and raised shopping centers and self-storage to "In Line" from "Underweight." He recommended Macerich Co., whose shares rose $1.08, or 3.9 percent, to $28.96, saying it will have enough cash on hand to handle a credit line expiring in April 2011. He downgraded his position to "Underweight" from "Overweight" on the office/industrial sector and healthcare REITs. A recent rise in the stock price of office REITs means shares are now fairly valued, he said. While office rents may have bottomed, "the pace of recovery is very unclear," he said.