Value investors often tout the fundamental goal of the value based approach to investing: attempting to a purchase a dollar of intrinsic value for substantially less than a dollar. By doing so, you maximize returns by adhering to a risk-averse strategy. While most investment approaches push higher risk as the only way to attain higher returns, the value investor understands that such a belief is inherently flawed. After all, the less one pays for a quality asset, greater downside protection is attained while increasing the likelihood of a stronger return. In the business world, real estate firm Brookfield Properties (NYSE:BPO) is doing just that.
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A History of Opportunistic Buying
Brookfield Properties is a real estate firm devoted to the ownership, development and management of commercial properties in the United States and Canada. Over the years, the company has demonstrated a strict discipline to opportunistic buying during down markets. BPO owns some of the most iconic real estate properties in the United States.
In the 1990s, Brookfield capitalized on a slumping property market by taking over the U.S. operations of now defunct real estate firm Olympia and York. This deal gave Brookfield ownership of three of the four towers of the World Financial Center in Manhattan at a bargain price. These towers are occupied by the strongest tenants and include names like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and American Express (NYSE:AXP).
At It Again
With a strong balance sheet and ample buying power as a result of a timely capital raise, Brookfield is back doing what it does best: buying prime commercial real estate during the bottom of the cycle. The company has acquired enough debt off a defaulted loan that includes a collection of 20 prime buildings in Washington DC. While Brookfield has not officially attained ownership, the debt purchases are clearly a sign of the company's intent. Such a move illustrates the brilliant capital allocation skill of Brookfield's management at buying quality assets at a fraction of cost. (For more, see Add Some Real Estate To Your Portfolio.)
Trading at $15 a share, the stock is up nearly threefold from its lows reached last year. Trading at 1.6 times book value also does not inspire the bargain hunter. Indeed while Brookfield's shares may not be as cheap as the deals the company is making, shares commanded nearly $25 before the real estate market crashed. And when the market does eventually turn, Brookfield will be a company with more quality assets bought at bargain prices. In addition, investors are also collecting a 4% yield while they team up with a first rate team of opportunistic real estate investors.
It Runs in the Family
Brookfield Properties should not be confused with its major shareholder Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM). In addition to commercial real estate, BAM also develops residential real estate, has an infrastructure arm, and provides lending. BAM is also currently involved in deal to provide credit to mall operator General Growth Properties (NYSE:GGP) as it works to emerge out of bankruptcy. However, BAM may lose that chance as rival mall operator Simon Property Group (NYSE:SPG) is in the process of making a higher bid in its efforts to obtain control of GGP.
In end, BPO looks more intriguing from a valuation and operational standpoint. Its core focus is in commercial real estate and while that market appears headed for tough times, BPO will prosper from its aggressive and opportunistic deal making. (For more, see Can Real Estate Stabilize Your Portfolio?)
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