The REIT portfolios of most of the top 20 institutional investors in U.S. equity REITs rose in market value on a sequential basis as of the end of the fourth quarter of 2015, SNL Real Estate finds.
The average value of the top 20 portfolios was up 6.2% to approximately $19.43 billion compared to the value at the end of the third quarter of 2015. The top 20 equity REIT institutional investors averaged 125 positions at fourth-quarter-end, an average increase of three positions from the prior quarter. By comparison, the SNL US Equity REIT Index comprises 189 REITs.Cohen & Steers Capital Management Inc. logged the best performance of the group with a more than 15% jump in the value of its REIT portfolio compared to the previous quarter, followed by BlackRock Inc. with a roughly 11% increase and Vanguard Group Inc. with a 10.5% rise in portfolio value.
Among its investment moves in the fourth quarter, Cohen & Steers boosted its stakes in Brixmor Property Group Inc. and National Retail Properties Inc. the most. The firm added 18.4 million shares of Brixmor, and its stake was worth $480 million more at fourth-quarter-end than at the end of the third quarter. It bought an additional 8.5 million shares of National Retail, and that stake was valued $348 million higher quarter over quarter at Dec. 31, 2015.
Cohen & Steers also brought in new investments during the quarter, adding Duke Realty Corp., Equity LifeStyle Properties Inc., Four Corners Property Trust andGramercy Property Trust Inc. to its portfolio, with Dec. 31 market values of $195.4 million, $23.2 million, $6.7 million and $1.9 million, respectively.
With a REIT portfolio valued at $100.01 billion at Dec. 31, 2015, Vanguard Group Inc. was the largest holder of U.S. equity REITs. It finished the quarter with 174 investment positions, a net gain of four compared to the previous quarter.
By market value, Vanguard's largest new stake during the fourth quarter was in Gramercy, which completed a merger with Chambers Street Properties on Dec. 17. The firm acquired approximately 61.9 million shares of Gramercy in the fourth quarter, with a quarter-end market value of $477.8 million.
It also added new stakes in NorthStar Realty Europe Corp., Four Corners Property Trust and American Farmland Co., with Dec. 31 market values of $60.6 million, $46.7 million and $2 million, respectively. These stakes all come from recent entrants in the REIT space, with NorthStar Realty Europe having completed a spinoff from NorthStar Realty Finance Corp. and Four Corners spinning off from Darden Restaurants Inc., both in November 2015, and American Farmland completing its IPO in October.
During the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2015, Vanguard also added to certain of its existing stakes, picking up shares with a market value of $467.2 million in Apple Hospitality REIT Inc., $221.2 million in Monogram Residential Trust Inc. and $185.6 million in Global Net Lease. The firm added 12.8 million shares of Apple Hospitality, 11.7 million shares of Monogram and 16.2 million shares of Global Net Lease.BlackRock Inc., with the second-largest REIT portfolio by market value, added five new U.S. REIT positions in the fourth quarter, ending the period with 159 positions in the sector.
BlackRock added positions similar to those made by Vanguard in the period, picking up shares with Dec. 31 market values of $239.8 million in Gramercy, $81.8 million in Four Corners, $36.4 million in NorthStar Realty Europe and $159,364 in American Farmland.
The company also added a new nominal stake in Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust Inc., with a market value of $4,813 as of Dec. 31.