Home / Positions / $AEC


Will Somebody – Please – Put A Stop To All The Law Firms

Will you look at the AEC headlines on Yahoo?

Following the buyout offer for the company, every shark and his brother is trying to get in on the feeding frenzy.

There is bound to be a comment section retort that “well, this is the job of law firms, to weed out the bad deals.”

Shareholders just got bought out for a 20% premium above market, and I have followed AEC long enough to know they are getting a great deal on this.

You and I both know, somewhere in the back of our minds, that this is not about protecting shareholders. There will be a time and a place for that discussion, and it is not now.

This is about blackmailing a corporation by pigeon holing them into a godless court system we have erected, whereby they can have two very unsatisfactory choices: 1) spend years jumping over capricious judicial hurdles or 2) pay off the law degrees.

The tasteless recourse is to pay the law firms, even when there is no real fair claim in play, just to tidy things up. Tell, what is more dangerous to shareholders; a couple percent on buyout offers orchestrated by people you can theoretically fire and overrule, or an environment where any jackass over the bar can hold you up for vast sums of money on a whim?

I am sorry if I’m mistaken, as I don’t follow the legal landscape very closely for reasons best described as “contempt”, but I don’t remember it always being this bad. It was just one or two suits, a few years ago.

Now, a board of directors can barely do anything without having eight class-actions stuffed down their throats.

I’ll take the MBA’s over the Juris Doctor’s, thank you. Someone needs to get this under control.

Comments »

Jeffrey I. Friedman Wins

Associated Estates Realty just announced a deal to sell itself to Brookfield Asset Management for $28.75 a share. The stock is up 16% today on the news.

A unit of Brookfield Asset Management Inc. agreed to buy U.S. apartment landlord Associated Estates Realty Corp. in a deal valued at $2.5 billion, including debt.

Brookfield offered to pay $28.75 a share in cash for the Richmond Heights, Ohio-based company, according to a statement Wednesday. The price is about 17 percent more than Associated Estates’ closing price on Tuesday.

This concludes a long and contentious battle over the proper valuation of AEC. I missed out on about the last 20% of upside (riding it from $15 to above $22), but still feel very happy for AEC shareholders nonetheless.

This company was treated so poorly by analysts for some sin that the CEO had committed in the 90’s. Was it an actual sin, or were the analysts being stupid? I don’t know.

What I do know is that AEC just unlocked major value for shareholders after laudable performance for the past five years. Nice work and congratulations to each of them.

That’s the match.

Comments »


Something had to be done.

It is December, so I cleared my head and made some tough choices. I sold completely out of AEC, ETP, and BTU. AEC and ETP are the only two positions I have that have held up (made money, really). I don’t want to part with them, but it’s the best move.

There will be immediate cries about selling winners and doubling down on losers. This is nonsense. I’m not doubling down on anything.

The sheer magnitude of this calamity has left me with an enormous, outstanding loss for the year. It’s December – no way in hell I can absorb that loss in less than 30 days.

The only way I can view this is as a window of opportunity to cash out my winners tax free.

Cash now stands at 25%.

I’m sitting on the cash. My preference, obviously, would be to deploy into a sector not at all tied to oil and gas. But if my worst fears come to fruition, that may not be a real thing.

Comments »

AEC Up 7% Today

I mostly got out of the multifamily trade earlier this year, by selling out of MAA. MAA was a position built from shares of CLP that were swapped out in a merger between the two companies. CLP and AEC were an investment I had made in the multifamily space in 2011, betting that rental occupancy would remain at record highs and rents would experience pressure, while more generally mortgage generation and homeownership would continue to languish.

That worked out pretty swimmingly.

But I did make one…I wouldn’t call it a mistake, per say, but…misjudgment. I did not anticipate how much the street hates AEC.

I guess AEC’s CEO got on the dark side of Wallstreet back in the late 90’s. Not just Wallstreet; I had some people perchance on my articles hyping up AEC who hated the CEO so much, they took the time to tell me and anyone else reading. I guess I can respect that. Blackballing those that have crossed you is an American tradition of sorts. I do it all the time. No big deal.

But I was willing to give AEC a chance, and it has mostly paid off as well. In addition to collecting 5% annually for four years, AEC is now up about 35% from my entry price. Not an APC or RGR or HCLP by any means, no. But respectable.

AEC is up 7% today, continuing a big push it has been making in the second half of this year. AEC has been trading at a serious discount to its peers in terms of stock premium, but has been making moves to force recognition of that value.

If AEC can hit above $23, that will have put AEC at effective returns of about 16% compounded annually, since 2011. Not bad, I can live with that.

Comments »

Cursory Glance At Multifamily Shows I’m Still Right

I’ve been right about multifamily since 2011. A certain cadre of analysts I love to hate on have been wrong for the same timeframe.

I’m not going to get into a detailed breakdown of the argument or the recent numbers that came out. But I will give you a very brief, very definitive explanation for why I am and will remain in a winning position, invested in the likes of AEC and MAA, and that will do.

Multifamily occupancy is at 95%+. Multifamily occupancy has remained at 95%+ for years. Multifamily occupancy will continue to remain at 95%+ for years yet to come.

Very much to the contrary of what certain professional analysts would like you to believe, this was not “obvious, mainstream knowledge” which “everyone totally saw coming”. Moreover, it certainly is not “irrelevant” or “priced in”.

Apartment occupancy through the 80’s was averaging in the mid 80% range. In the 90’s (interestingly enough) it expanded to the low 90% range. It was not until the boom (and subsequent bust years) of the 2000 bubble era that this present level of 95% was even challenged. Perhaps companies were caught underbuilding inventory. Perhaps they just got good and filling space. I don’t know.

As the housing market took off in those early 2000 years, that occupancy level began to subside and many analysts began calling for a return to the 80’s (in occupancy terms, by way of a deathspiral in demand for apartments). In tow with this expectation, multifamily CEO’s began repositioning their businesses for less renters, less lease space. Apartment demand was dead, we were told.

Except that it wasn’t. In an effort to absorb the shock from fewer renters year over year, multifamily new development was virtually nonexistent for half a decade. Yet, as you all know, the actual result was very much the opposite. A colossal failure of housing ensued, and demand for multifamily apartments has risen dramatically.

Every new building that gets brought online is hitting 95% occupancy virtually overnight. The demand is so hot, companies like AEC and MAA can’t build fast enough.

I want you to take a minute to look at AEC’s acquisition and development budget. Look at MAA’s next.

This is, as one might say, “kind of a big deal.”

These companies are cheap; they don’t have much premium baked in. You can pick them up and pocket 5% dividends for years, while you wait for their stock price to go on a nice little 30-40% run, no problem. Look back, find you’ve averaged 10% annually, call it a decade.

Sure, eventually the cycle will run it’s course and the stocks will take a hit on overdevelopment. But how much money do I stand to make in the meantime?

Comments »

Down Over 2% Today

Well, the hubris post did it, and pointing out that when I crossed 20% YTD gains timed the top with almost cruel exactness. Just as we all knew it would.

BAS is taking the session the hardest for me, down almost 7%. They started a correction after earnings, and it looks to be picking up speed. My guess is a retest of the 200 day, putting them just over $20 a share, at which time I will be a buyer.

MAA is second worst, down over 5% on a disappointing…Core FFO number? FFO is very important in the real estate market, because it prices out depreciation of construction (which so long as your structure is sound is irrelevant). But they also just doubled their operation by acquiring my old position CLP, and seem to be continuing the spirit of development and expansion. They have sound debt levels making the process easier, with plenty of room to add leverage. And a strong wind at their backs in the form of a rising rent environment. I’m holding here because a 4% dividend and steady growth make MAA a sound enough investment once this passes.

Following next is a roughly four way tie between BTU, NRP, HCLP, and ETP. There seems to be a theme today of energy names being punished a little worse than the indices. Then again, people have hated coal for years and half the energy sector has huge gains unrealized with ample volume to round about escape losses elsewhere, so maybe this makes perfect sense.

CCJ had a good earnings report, continuing to kick the uranium market doldrums by personally doing just fine. Their long term contracts persist in rewarding them with a price well above the dismal spot market, and sales volumes have increased. So the market has rewarded them by only selling off 1.5%.

(Actually, I need to be honest. I am concerned that CCJ has managed to perform this well in this environment. Particularly because despite the better sales and earnings, they continued to lose cash – the only thing that really matters – and in light of the recent revelations of overseas corporations acting to enable financial games with their taxes. I’m going to be sniffing around very closely here, because I will not become prey to some corporate Enron nonsense)

AEC and silver are my “best” positions, each down “only” less than 1%.

Okay, so the market is getting clubbed. What do we do about it?

Well, if you’re in my position – and if you’ve been following me, that is quite possible – up still over 15% for the year, then the answer is pretty clear. You do nothing.

I can afford to do nothing here, to see if this hard drop doesn’t stabilize quickly and lead us higher through August. We should hit a bottom pretty quick. I don’t yet see a good catalyst for a major drop, outside of the regular bank failings and global “World War” heckling that usually bogs us down. For the moment, that’s no excuse to panic.

China, Europe, and most the rest of the world haven’t exactly been doing awesome before now. This isn’t news.

So there’s no rush here. 13% YTD gains is my floor. When I hit that point, I go to cash fast, because my year will be at least +13%. 13% because I was stuck between 10% and 15%, so let’s take the black prime number in the middle (scientific, right?).

Comments »