Vornado Realty Trust VNO has incurred the wrath of investors as it announced a slash of its fourth-quarter dividend by a considerable 20%. The dividend, set at 30 cents per common share, down from 37.50 cents in the first quarter of 2023, has left shareholders feeling like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.
The company had earlier delayed its dividend payment until the end of 2023, citing reduced taxable income due to surging interest expenses. But now, the real estate investment trust has dealt another blow – revealing plans to pay only a single common share dividend in 2024.
Let’s delve deeper into this financial quagmire and unpack what this means for Vornado Realty, the real estate market, and the wider investment landscape.
Troubled Times in Real Estate
The United States office real estate market has been a rollercoaster of uncertainty for the better part of 2023, marked by negative absorption and climbing vacancy levels. This volatile environment has been attributed to the persisting work-from-home, flexible, or hybrid work setups, which have eroded office space utilization.
Despite healthy demand for premier office spaces, leasing activity at the company’s properties, notably in New York City, has faced headwinds due to macroeconomic uncertainty. As a result, Vornado’s growth has hit a speedbump, with occupancy in its New York portfolio dropping 40 basis points to 89.9% year over year in the third quarter of 2023.
Moreover, soaring interest rates have burdened Vornado with significantly higher interest and debt expenses, up by a painful 14.8% year over year in the third quarter of 2023. This surge has impeded the company’s funds from operations (FFO) per share growth and hampered its ability to invest in real estate.
Consequently, Vornado now faces the uphill task of maintaining its retained cash flow at a satisfactory level and shoring up its balance sheet strength to weather the storm.
Stocks to Consider
If Vornado’s turmoil has left you feeling uneasy, it might be smart to consider other options in the real estate investment trust sector. Stocks like EastGroup Properties EGP, Stag Industrial STAG, and Park Hotels & Resorts PK offer greener pastures, according to Zacks. These companies are ranked favorably and have shown promising trends in their FFO estimates.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.