The vicious REIT selloff over the past 1½ years has brought belated vindication to former bear David Shulman, a REIT analyst at Lehman Brothers from 2000 to 2005. After his departure from the investment house, Shulman was mocked by Steve Roth, Vornado's longtime CEO, for having "a three-year sell on Vornado with a $43 average target" at a time when the stock was in the 80s. Vornado peaked at $133 in 2007, but plunged as low as $29 in March and now is in the high 40s. It recently sold $741 million of common stock at $43, Shulman's old price target. Roth hasn't apologized in print.
"REITs are a lot more attractive now than they were at the highs in 2007," Shulman said last week from his New Jersey home. "But compared with the rest of the stock market, they don't look so cheap." He notes that most real-estate investment trusts change hands at 10 to 16 times pretax cash flow, while a quality stock such as Johnson & Johnson, which has a triple-A credit rating, fetches 12 times after-tax earnings and seven times pretax cash flow.