Essex Property Trust (ESS) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Essex Property Trust (NYSE:ESS) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Thursday, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Essex Property have outperformed its industry in the past six months. Also, the trend in estimate revisions of 2019 funds from operations (FFO) per share indicates a favorable outlook for the company. Courtesy of a solid balance sheet, Essex Property is likely to leverage on favorable demographic trends, household formation, healthy economy and job market growth. Substantial exposure to the West Coast market, which is home to several innovation and technology companies, offers ample scope to boost the top line over the long term. Particularly, the operating fundamentals in the West Coast market have been healthy. The Northern California and Seattle regions are witnessing solid demand, backed by the technology sector. However, apartment deliveries are expected to remain elevated in a number of its markets in the near term, which will fuel competition and curb the company’s capability to raise rents and turn on rental concessions.”

ESS has been the topic of several other reports. Barclays upgraded Essex Property Trust from a neutral rating to a positive rating in a research note on Monday, February 4th. Jefferies Financial Group cut Essex Property Trust from a buy rating to a hold rating and increased their price objective for the company from $290.00 to $295.00 in a research note on Thursday, February 7th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Citigroup set a $275.00 price target on Essex Property Trust and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Tuesday, February 5th. KeyCorp raised their price target on Essex Property Trust from $268.00 to $301.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research note on Tuesday, March 19th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets restated a hold rating and issued a $295.00 price target on shares of Essex Property Trust in a research note on Monday, March 25th. Ten equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $282.17.

Shares of NYSE ESS traded down $1.02 during mid-day trading on Thursday, hitting $284.92. The company had a trading volume of 4,420 shares, compared to its average volume of 267,861. The stock has a market cap of $18.67 billion, a P/E ratio of 22.67, a PEG ratio of 3.82 and a beta of 0.45. The company has a current ratio of 1.08, a quick ratio of 1.08 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.91. Essex Property Trust has a 1-year low of $226.22 and a 1-year high of $294.61.

Essex Property Trust (NYSE:ESS) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, April 24th. The real estate investment trust reported $3.23 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $3.19 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $356.22 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $353.55 million. Essex Property Trust had a return on equity of 6.50% and a net margin of 29.67%. During the same period last year, the firm earned $3.09 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts forecast that Essex Property Trust will post 13.12 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, July 12th. Investors of record on Friday, June 28th will be issued a dividend of $1.95 per share. This represents a $7.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.74%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, June 27th. Essex Property Trust’s dividend payout ratio is currently 62.05%.

In other Essex Property Trust news, CFO Angela L. Kleiman sold 1,177 shares of Essex Property Trust stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, March 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $289.72, for a total value of $341,000.44. Following the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 6,916 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,003,703.52. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Michael J. Schall sold 2,682 shares of Essex Property Trust stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, March 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $290.10, for a total value of $778,048.20. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 43,533 shares in the company, valued at approximately $12,628,923.30. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 11,110 shares of company stock worth $3,224,758 in the last ninety days. 3.60% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Legal & General Group Plc lifted its position in shares of Essex Property Trust by 4.3% during the 4th quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 603,903 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock valued at $148,091,000 after acquiring an additional 25,082 shares during the period. Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc. boosted its position in Essex Property Trust by 10.2% during the 4th quarter. Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc. now owns 2,149 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock worth $527,000 after purchasing an additional 199 shares during the period. Norges Bank purchased a new stake in Essex Property Trust during the 4th quarter worth $142,785,000. EP Wealth Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in Essex Property Trust during the 4th quarter worth $522,000. Finally, IFM Investors Pty Ltd boosted its position in Essex Property Trust by 10.2% during the 4th quarter. IFM Investors Pty Ltd now owns 3,787 shares of the real estate investment trust’s stock worth $929,000 after purchasing an additional 352 shares during the period. 97.13% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Essex Property Trust

Essex Property Trust, Inc, an S&P 500 company, is a fully integrated real estate investment trust (REIT) that acquires, develops, redevelops, and manages multifamily residential properties in selected West Coast markets. Essex currently has ownership interests in 245 apartment communities with an additional 6 properties in various stages of active development.

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