Rating Change #1

Equity Residential ( EQR) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) industry. The net income increased by 274.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $28.78 million to $107.85 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 18.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 13.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • EQUITY RESIDENTIAL reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, EQUITY RESIDENTIAL reported poor results of -$0.26 versus -$0.02 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.77 versus -$0.26).
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $221.57 million or 7.57% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, EQUITY RESIDENTIAL's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 38.64%.

Equity Residential, a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the acquisition, development, and management of multifamily properties in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 350.9, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Equity has a market cap of $16.66 billion and is part of the financial sector and real estate industry. Shares are down 1.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

You can view the full Equity Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

-- Reported by Kevin Baker in Jupiter, Fla.

For additional Investment Research check out our Ratings Research Center.

For all other upgrades and downgrades made by TheStreet Ratings Model today check out our upgrades and downgrades list.
Kevin Baker became the senior financial analyst for TheStreet Ratings upon the August 2006 acquisition of Weiss Ratings by TheStreet.com, covering equity and mutual fund ratings. He joined the Weiss Group in 1997 as a banking and brokerage analyst. In 1999, he created the Weiss Group's first ratings to gauge the level of risk in U.S. equities. Baker received a B.S. degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. with a finance specialization from Nova Southeastern University.

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