As student housing operators deal with the onslaught of students returning to class this month, company executives at Memphis-based EdR and Austin-based American Campus Communities (ACC) recently released their quarterly earnings.
The large takeaway for both was that fundamentals remain solid, with ACC reporting a 2.3 percent increase in same store NOI, and EdR reporting a 2.6 percent increase. And after both REITs cut back on acquisitions in the past year, they remain cautious about diving back in.
“Our sense is that ACC wants to firmly put 2013 in the past and not return to the big acquisition game until next year, after it has closed out 2014 by hitting the objectives laid out: reducing marketing spend and improved pre-leasing,” said Sandler O'Neill Research in a recent note.
ACC is on track to sell $100 million to $200 million in assets. That number isn’t set in stone though.
“As we have previously stated, we may elect to increase our disposition volume of non-core assets,” said William Talbot, ACC’s chief investment officer on the company’s earnings call, which was transcribed by SeekingAlpha.com.
EdR sold two assets during the second quarter and has now sold 21 communities, which is just over 50 percent of the assets it owned prior to January 2010.
“Clearly there are a fair number of assets that are coming to market that meet our criteria,” said Tom Trubiana, EdR’s chief investment officer, in the earning calls transcribed by SeekingAlpha.com. “But we are going to stay disciplined with our business plans. So it's fun to be back into the selective acquisition market.”
Both REITs are still developing. EdR, which has $304 million in new communities coming on line this year, has another $292 million scheduled for 2015 and 2016. Trubiana indicated those numbers could grow.
EdR could also be expanding in Georgia. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents selected EdR as one of the three finalists to submit a proposal for the acquisition, refinance, and development of approximately 9,000 beds of on-campus housing across nine schools.
Over the next year, ACC plans to open a number of projects that will ultimately comprise 10 percent of its total enterprise value.
“This coupled with the opportunity to further improve our portfolio via recycling capital via the disposition of non-core assets and into the acquisition of newer core pedestrian assets, provides meaningful value-creation opportunities,” says William Bayless, ACC’s President and CEO.