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There is ‘enormous opportunity’ in REITs, says Gilman Hill’s Jenny Harrington

Real estate investment trusts are having a bad year. Yet if you sift through the sector, you could find an opportunity to make a lot of money, according to Jenny Harrington, CEO of Gilman Hill Asset Management. The MSCI US REIT Index is down nearly 21% in 2022, according to FactSet. The index has 132 constituents, representing about 99% of the U.S. REIT universe. In comparison, the S & P 500 has lost about 11% so far this year. Blackstone recently had to limit withdrawals from its retail real estate fund , BREIT, for November and December. The investment vehicle received repurchase requests that exceeded the 2% net asset value monthly limit and the 5% quarterly limit. Overall, rising interest rates are largely to blame for the slump in the sector, since investors who have REITs for their high dividend yields may sell the assets in favor of risk-free Treasurys. The Treasury yields have been climbing this year, with the 2-year note currently yielding more than 4%. “The underlying businesses are in excellent shape in many cases,” Harrington said on CNBC’s ” Halftime Report ” Friday. “I don’t think that you are doing yourself a service to make the broad-based statement, ‘commercial real estate is bad.'” She owns several names, including Iron Mountain , which supports information storage and retrieval to businesses. It currently has a 4.5% yield and is up more than 5% year to date. National Retail Properties , Postal Realty Trust , Sabra Health Care and SL Green Realty are also on her list. “In an economy that is strong, which we are still in … they produce real earnings and they are able to increase their rents,” Harrington said. “Most of them still have really decent earnings growth ahead.” Jim Lebenthal, chief equity strategist at Cerity Partners, also isn’t bailing on REITs. “Interest rates appear to have peaked. The time to get out of REITs, I would say, is when interest rates are going up,” he said on “Halftime Report.” Lebenthal owns Camden Property Trust , which owns, manages and develops multifamily apartment communities in the Sun Belt area. People are moving to the area in the southern part of the U.S. as they leave higher-taxed coastal states, he said. The key to investing is to sort through the sector and choose wisely, Harrington added. “You need to pick through and not use the broad brush on this,” she said. “There is enormous opportunity and I think that because they are down so much, this is a place where you can actually make a lot of money going into 2023.”

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