In Grinding It Out, the story of McDonald’s, Ray Kroc explained the financial engineering that drove the company to prosperity in its early days: “The formation of Franchise Realty Corporation, was to my mind, a stroke of financial genius. Franchise Realty was the supreme example of a guy putting his money where his mouth is. We started Franchise Realty Corporation with $1,000 paid-in capital, and Harry parlayed that cash investment into something like $170 million worth of real estate. His idea, simply put, was that we would induce a property owner to lease us his land on a subordinated basis. That is, he would take back a second mortgage so that we … Read the rest of this article!
During every market cycle, fads happen. They become very obvious in hindsight, but the tricky part is recognizing them in real time. My prediction? Some real estate investment trusts that are currently being touted by investment analysts will be trading at the exact same prices five or so years from now (assuming the markets are rationally valued at that time.) Even if the profits grow, the countervailing force of valuation compression will be a nasty offset ensuring mediocre returns.
I’ll give an example. I just finished reviewing a company called Iron Mountain. It is a giant data manager that stores documents, communications, and official records for corporate clients. The investor community loves this … Read the rest of this article!