4 International Real Estate Developers Looking For A Strong Recovery

by: Kevin Quon

Depressed markets often offer significant upside when the potential for recovery appears to be right around the corner. For the real estate development market, share prices for domestic American companies have yet to stage a true recovery as witnessed by the leaders who continue to trade at fractions off their 2007 highs. As a result, patient investors have continued to view these companies as potential value plays awaiting to once again have their moment in the sun. Some of the following companies are among the most prominent names in real estate development that survived throughout the Great Recession.

Company Name Market Capitalization Current Ratio Last Price Price/Book Ratio
Meritage Homes (NYSE:MTH) $0.87 B 8.18 $26.64 1.83
Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) $3.88 B 6.09 $23.31 1.52
Lennar (NYSE:LEN) $4.41 B 6.26 $23.35 1.66
NVR Inc. (NYSE:NVR) $3.50 B 3.79 $703.64 2.60

Yet as whole, the real estate market decline wasn't felt only in America. The reverberations of the crash circulated throughout the international markets as fear's contagion spread across global markets. Take for instance, the real estate market in Latin America which was quickly deemed to be deteriorating as was the case of Europe. And in China, the ever-present fears of a real estate crash continue to this day to scare investors from taking the market at face value. Even with all indications of a recovering global economy at hand, international real estate developers continue to trade at prices near or below book value. Investors looking to capitalize on an American real estate recovery may also wish to consider diversifying their exposure to include an international real estate recovery found in the markets broad. The following four companies may offer such an opportunity.

Company Name Market Capitalization Current Ratio Last Price Price/Book Ratio
Xinyuan Real Estate (NYSE:XIN) $178 M 2.29 $2.36 0.31
IRSA Investments and Representations (NYSE:IRS) $606 M 0.75 $10.48 1.07
Gafisa (NYSE:GFA) $1.25 B 3.35 $5.78 0.58
Gazit-Globe (NYSE:GZT) $1.58 B 1.01 $10.20 0.89

Xinyuan Real Estate engages in residential real estate development in China, specifically in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities that are less prone to being affected by a possible housing slowdown. The NYSE-traded company is currently priced with an eye-opening forward price-to-earnings ratio of 1.74. With an ongoing buyback of the company's stock and a rough 4% dividend being distributed annually, Xinyuan is a far cry from being fairly valued from the looks of its financials. The company which currently trades at $2.36/share had its initial public offering in late 2007 and was originally priced at $14/share.

IRSA Investments and Representations operates through several real estate related activities in Argentina. As of September 2011, the company served as a majority-owned subsidiary of Cresud (NASDAQ:CRESY) and as one of the largest real estate companies in Argentina. The company engages in the development of residential properties and of commercial properties located throughout Argentina. The company has continually grown its dividend over the past few years and has a trailing dividend yield of over 12%.

Gafisa is a growing residential homebuilder in Brazil that specializes in the development of buildings for all income levels. This company based in Sao Paulo is poised to prosper in the rapidly growing economy of Brazil as a renewed focus on home construction coincides with economic growth. The company currently trades with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 7.51. With a trailing dividend of 4.8%, Gafisa has also shown its ability to grow its dividend over the past few years.

Gazit-Globe is a world-leading multinational real estate company with operations primarily located throughout North America, Europe, Israel and Brazil. The company is based in Tel Aviv, Israel and has a strong focus on "necessity-driven" real estate which primarily includes supermarket-anchored shopping centers in urban growth markets. The company also strategically owns several medical office buildings and senior housing businesses throughout North America. Through its recent IPO in December 2011, the company raised $81 million in gross proceeds and listed upon the NYSE. The company offers an approximate 3.3% dividend and sports a quarterly revenue growth of over 36% on a year over year basis.

Disclosure: I am long GFA, XIN.

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