Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Third Avenue Real Estate Value

A recent article in Kiplingers, authored by Steven T. Goldberg, mentioned one of the real estate funds run by Michael Winer--under the Third Avenue Value umbrella of funds.

Personally, I prefer another fund, Third Avenue Real Estate Value (TAREX). The main reason: Less than half of its assets are in REITs. Manager Mike Winer, who spent many years in the real estate industry before becoming a professional investor, likes the freedom that real estate operating companies have to deploy their earnings.

They don't make the huge payouts to shareholders that REITs must. In today's market, where cash is king, operating companies often have much bigger cash troves than REITs do.

Third Avenue is quirky. It yields just 2.9%--low for a real estate fund. Expenses are higher than I'd like to see them, at 1.1%. Plus, Winer can--and does--invest anywhere; more than 60% of the fund's assets are in foreign stocks.

But returns have been solid. The fund gained 8.5% annualized over the past ten years. Winer is a disciple of Third Avenue founder Marty Whitman's "safe and cheap" school of investing. (Note that the fund has a $10,000 initial minimum, although many discount brokers let you in for less.)

Read the full article at the link above for more information. We'll just add that the article nailed one of the main characteristics of the real estate fund run by Winer: it's emphasis on real-estate operating companies over the trusts.

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