BOSTON (TheStreet) -- If the property market is in a slump, why have some real estate investment trusts, profiled below and on the following pages, doubled or tripled?Ask hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management, who has been buying real-estate stocks. He says they represent the best value in investing. The Dow Jones Equity All REIT Total Return Index has risen 28% this year, twice that of the benchmark S&P 500 Index. That's on top of a 33% advance in 2009. Some real-estate stocks have risen multiples of the index. Newcastle Investment ( NCT) and Glimcher Realty Trust ( GRT) are the two best-performing REITs this year as investors hunt for dividends, put off by record-low bond yields. Many of these stocks are yielding more than the 3.39% investors can get with 10-year Treasury bonds. Among the key points Ackman highlighted in a November presentation, which carried the tongue-in-cheek title "How To Make a Fortune," is that real estate is at the lowest level in at least a generation, with a large number of distressed transactions and favorable long-term demand. Ackman's bet on real estate has already paid off for Pershing Square, which invested in General Growth Properties ( GGP) when the stock traded for $1 after the mall operator rejected a buyout offer from Simon Property Group ( SPG) and sought bankruptcy protection. General Growth Properties now trades at $15 after emerging from Chapter 11. Despite General Growth Properties' comeback this year, the stock didn't manage to crack the list of the 10 best-performing REITs for 2010. Read on to see which real-estate stocks trading on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq returned the most to investors this year.
10. Gyrodyne Co. of America ( GYRO) Company Profile: Gyrodyne leases industrial and commercial real estate to unrelated diversified entities. Properties are located in Long Island and Cortlandt Manor, New York. Shares of the company doubled in July after the Court of Claims of the State of New York issued an opinion requiring the state to pay Gyrodyne nearly $100 million for land appropriated in 2005 in addition to $26 million paid for the property at the time of the taking. Share Price: $79.62 (Dec. 29) Current Yield: Gyrodyne doesn't currently pay a dividend. 2010 Total Return: 92% Analyst Consensus: There is no analyst coverage of Gyrodyne.
8. Ashford Hospitality Trust ( AHT) Company Profile: Ashford Hospitality Trust is a REIT with a portfolio of direct hotel investments, including brands like Embassy Suites, Marriott, Hilton and Residence Inn. Share Price: $9.62 (Dec. 29) Current Yield: Ashford Hospitality doesn't currently pay a dividend. Before the market collapse in 2008, Ashford yielded roughly 5%. 2010 Total Return: 104% Analyst Consensus: Four of five analysts covering Ashford Hospitality have a "hold" rating on the stock. The only other research firm following the company has a "buy" rating on shares. No analyst recommends selling the stock.
6. Hersha Hospitality Trust ( HT) Company Profile: Hersha Hospitality Trust invests in institutional-grade hotels in central business districts, primary suburban office markets and stable destination and secondary markets. Properties are located in the Northeast and the West Coast. Share Price: $6.55 (Dec. 29) Current Yield: 3.1% 2010 Total Return: 114% Analyst Consensus: Even with a total return of 114%, Hersha is still loved by analysts. Six researchers recommend buying the stock, while two others suggest that investors continue holding shares. Only one research firm has a "sell" rating on Hersha.
4. iStar Financial ( SFI) Company Profile: iStar Financial is a diversified financial-services REIT with two primary lines of business: lending and corporate tenant leasing. The company has completed over $34 billion of commercial real estate investments over the past 15 years, according to its Web site. Share Price: $7.75 (Dec. 29) Current Yield: iStar Financial doesn't currently pay a dividend. The company last paid a dividend in July 2008, which yielded 8%. 2010 Total Return: 199% Analyst Consensus: Four of the five analysts covering iStar say investors should hold on to shares. The other analyst has a "buy" rating on the stock. No analyst recommends selling the stock.
2. Glimcher Realty Trust ( GRT) Company Profile: As a developer of malls, Glimcher Realty Trust owns or manages 27 properties in 14 states with about 21 million square feet of leasable space, according to the company's Web site. Share Price: $8.13 (Dec. 29) Current Yield: 4.9% 2010 Total Return: 216% Analyst Consensus: Despite the big run-up, two research firms covering the company say Glimcher is a "buy." Another three analysts say investors should hold shares, while one firm argues that the stock is a "sell."