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RLJ Lodging (RLJ) Closes Merger with FelCor Lodging Trust

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RLJ Lodging Trust (RLJ - Free Report) announced the closure of its previously announced merger with FelCor Lodging Trust Incorporated, making it the third largest lodging REIT by enterprise value.

Shares of FelCor will no longer trade on the stock exchange. In fact, the combined entity will operate under the name of RLJ Lodging Trust and trade under the same ticker symbol, RLJ, on the NYSE.

Each common stock of FelCor has been exchanged for 0.362 newly issued shares of RLJ. Further, its operating units have been exchanged for limited partnership units of RLJ’s operating partnership at the same exchange rate. Moreover, each $1.95 Series A cumulative convertible preferred share of FelCor has been exchanged for RJL’s Series A cumulative convertible preferred share. The newly created Series A preferred shares will trade on the NYSE as RLJprA.       

The above discussed merger has helped the company fortify its position in the focused-service and compact full-service hotel space. In fact, the combined entity has ownership interest in 160 hotels, including premium branded hotels in 26 states, which are concentrated primarily in the urban and coastal markets.

Per RLJ’s prior announcement, this strategic merger will enable the pure-play lodging REIT to expand global footprint and enhance its portfolio in high-growth markets. In addition, widening the scale of operations will offer a number of benefits to the company, such as better cost control and access to capital markets at favorable terms.    

The combined portfolio positions the company well to ride on the growth trajectory and create value for shareholders.

However, RLJ’s shares have underperformed its industry, year to date. While the company has lost 17.4%, the industry rallied 6.2% during this period. Moreover, its Zacks Consensus Estimate for third-quarter 2017 earnings edged down to 60 cents over the past seven days.

The stock currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Stocks to Consider

Better-ranked stocks in the REIT space include Seritage Growth Properties , Getty Realty Corporation (GTY - Free Report) and Communications Sales & Leasing, Inc. (UNIT - Free Report) . While Seritage sports a Zacks Rank #1(Strong Buy), Getty Realty and Communications Sales & Leasing carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Seritage’s 2017 funds from operation (FFO) per share estimates inched up 0.5% to $2.01 in a month’s time.

Getty Realty’s FFO per share estimates for 2017 moved up 7.8% to $1.94 over the past 60 days.

Communications Sales & Leasing’s 2017 FFO per share estimates climbed 14.4% to $2.54 in a month’s time.

Note: All EPS numbers presented in this write up represent funds from operations (“FFO”) per share. FFO, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, is obtained after adding depreciation and amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

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