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Is a Hold Strategy Apt for Taubman Centers' (TCO) Stock Now?

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Retail real estate investment trust (REIT) Taubman Centers (TCO - Free Report) will likely benefit from a solid retail real estate portfolio consisting of highly productive malls in posh locations and increasing demand for retail goods amid strengthening of the economy.

Notably, these regional malls have high average sales productivity, attracting high-quality national retailers. This ensures a steady source of rental revenues for the company. In fact, third-quarter 2018 marked the ninth consecutive quarter of positive sales growth, while comparable center mall tenant sales per square foot were up 5.8% year over year for the quarter.

Further, the company’s retail properties are anchored by high-quality tenants and departmental stores. Also, amid modern retail landscape, internet-only retailers are opting for physical stores in top-quality malls. In fact, many of these online retailers like Apple, Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) , Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) and, Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) are now tenants of the company. This supports the retail landlord’s omni-channel strategy.

Moreover, as the economy gains momentum, along with improving employment scenario, demand for retail goods is expected to increase. Hence, this is an opportune moment for the company to leverage on the favorable environment and offer real estate support to the retail sector.

However, the onslaught of e-commerce on physical retailers have compelled tenants to rationalize their store fleet, while others that are unable to contend with online giants are filing bankruptcies. In addition, rapid shift in customers’ shopping preferences and patterns with an increasing inclination to buy online has hampered mall traffic. This has emerged as a pressing concern for retail REITs like Taubman, as the trend is bringing down demand for the retail real estate space considerably. Moreover, such an environment has led to tenants demanding substantial lease concessions but mall landlords are finding these unjustified.

In addition, given its international presence, unfavorable foreign currency movements remain a concern for Taubman Centers.

Additionally, a rise in interest rate can pose a challenge for the company. This is because the company’s ability to refinance existing debt would be restricted, while interest cost on new debt might flare up. This could affect the company’s financial results and consequently dent its dividend payout.

Taubman Centers carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Also, shares of the company have declined 23.2% over the past six months, which is wider than the industry’s loss of 19.2%. 


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