Vornado Adopts Simpler REIT Strategy

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Last week Vornado Realty Trust ( VNO) announced the sales of The Plant, a power strip shopping center in San Jose, Calif., and a retail property that is part of Philadelphia's Gallery at Market East, for $203 million and $60 million, respectively.

The combined sales resulted in net proceeds of approximately $156 million, after the repayment of the mortgage on the San Jose property and closing costs.

The recent news reflects the continuing trend of the New York-based REIT to simplify its business model and focus more on its core property holdings.

Vornado owns and manages more than 100 million square feet of office and retail space across the country and generates nearly $3 billion in annual revenue, with around 80% of earnings from properties in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

So far this year, Vornado has made substantial progress in simplifying the company, and that is evident in the REIT's more recent plan to sell around 40%, or 10 million, of its J.C. Penney ( JCP) shares.

Although Vornado sold the JCP shares at a loss (or around 50%), the move was a necessary step towards a more broad-based transformation from the company's more hedge fund-like strategy into more of a pure-play REIT strategy.

Other noncore holdings that Vorndao likely will monetize include investments in Alexander's ( ALX), Toys 'R' Us, Lexington Realty Trust ( LXP) and LNR Property.

It's widely known that Vornado's noncore approach to investing -- similar to a hedge fund strategy -- was originally designed to diversify revenue in higher-risk marketable securities.

Like JCP, Toys 'R' Us is also subject to the risks of e-commerce competition, and since Toys 'R' Us is a highly seasonal business, profits are not generated until the fourth quarter (around 80% of revenue is accounted for during the December holiday season). That could make Toys a tougher unwind.

Vornado also owns a 32.4% interest in the outstanding common stock of Alexander's, a small-cap REIT engaged in leasing, managing and developing properties that are focused primarily on the locations where its former department stores operated before they ceased operations in 1992.

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