Thursday, March 4, 2010

Taking a closer look at Vornado, the NY/DC REIT

Meet Our Current Students

In our course Real Estate Equity Investments, we are working in teams on a semester long project to analyze a publicly-traded REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust). My group consists of five students (including myself) who are interested in pursuing the AREIT program at Wisconsin. During our second year, we would invest real money in equity REITs with property holdings throughout the United States.

Because of the rigorous nature of the AREIT program, our instructor Michael Dubis gave our team a more complex company to analyze. Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) certainly fits that description, with office properties in New York and Washington, DC, retail holdings on the coasts, and merchandise marts throughout the country. In addition, Vornado has interests in private companies that are difficult to research, including one-third ownership of Toys R Us.

Work as an industry analyst is tedious, and may only be considered fun by true real estate geeks, but we have pored through VNO's consolidated financial statements, annual reports, and supplementals with enthusiasm. We also contacted an alum of the program, Shannon Bauer, who currently works for Vornado. Shannon is in the New York City office, and she has provided an invaluable perspective on how the company worked through the recent economic downtown and where opportunities exist for near-term growth. (Alumni support for real estate students at Wisconsin is exceptional.)

The course objective is to derive a valuation of the company based on corporate strategy, capital market constraints, and macro economic trends. Luckily, we are not yet to Spring Break, so we still have time to work through the details.

Travis Campbell is a first year MBA student in the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate at the Wisconsin School of Business. He is packing his bags for the first-year class trip to the largest real estate conference outside of the U.S.--MIPIM 2010 in Cannes, France.

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