Equity Residential (EQR): Today's Featured Real Estate Laggard

Equity Residential ( EQR) pushed the Real Estate industry lower today making it today's featured Real Estate laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.5%. By the end of trading, Equity Residential fell 36 cents (-0.6%) to $62.35 on light volume. Throughout the day, 789,941 shares of Equity Residential exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.9 million shares. The stock ranged in price between $62.29-$63.01 after having opened the day at $62.86 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $62.71. Other company's within the Real Estate industry that declined today were: IFM Investments ( CTC), down 5.2%, American Capital Mortgage Investment ( MTGE), down 3.7%, MFA Financial ( MFA), down 3.7%, and Doral Financial ( DRL), down 3.5%.

Equity Residential, a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the acquisition, development, and management of multifamily properties in the United States. Equity Residential has a market cap of $18.88 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 169.7, below the average real estate industry P/E ratio of 184.7 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 10% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are four analysts that rate Equity Residential a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and 12 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Equity Residential as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the positive front, American Spectrum Realty ( AQQ), up 19%, Institutional Financial Markets ( IFMI), up 7.6%, E-House China Holdings ( EJ), up 6.7%, and ZipRealty ( ZIPR), up 6.2%, were all gainers within the real estate industry with Host Hotels & Resorts ( HST) being today's featured real estate industry leader.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the real estate industry could consider iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate ( IYR) while those bearish on the real estate industry could consider ProShares Short Real Estate Fund ( REK).
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