More Big Tech Moves - REIT And Non-REIT News

The markets aren’t open this Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. but we remain on the job regardless.

Of the interesting stories out there to talk about – and I do think there are several – CNBC reports that “Investors Are Paying Millions for Virtual Land in the Metaverse.” It adds how:

The most expensive spots are near where lots of users congregate – for instance, someone recently paid $450,000 to be Snoop Dogg’s neighbor in a virtual world called the Sandbox.


Prices for plots have soared as much as 500% in the last few months ever since Facebook [FB] announced it was going all-in on virtual reality, even changing its corporate name to Meta Platforms.

Speaking of Facebook… I mentioned its legal troubles in the U.K. last week, even while Google was bragging about its relationship over there. Here in the U.S., however, there’s a new lawsuit against the latter, alleging that it’s given Facebook an unfair advertising advantage.

Attorneys for multiple states say that Google signed an under-the-radar deal with its fellow tech giant in 2018. One that violates antitrust laws. As it reads:

The halcyon days of Google’s youth are a distant memory. Over [20] years ago, two college students founded a company that forever changed the way that people search the internet. Since then, Google has expanded its business far beyond search and dropped its famous “don’t be evil” motto.

Coincidence? The lawsuit says not.

human hand holding plasma ball

Image Source: Unsplash

More Non-REIT News

Here’s a little more of the official filing, for what it’s worth:

As internal Google documents reveal, Google sought to kill competition and has done so through an array of exclusionary tactics, including an unlawful agreement with Facebook… to manipulate advertising auctions. The Supreme Court has warned that there are such things as antitrust evils. This litigation will establish that Google is guilty of such…

I say “for what it’s worth” since Silicon Valley is enormously influential in Washington D.C. It donates a whole lot of money to federal-level politicians on both sides of the aisle.

In short, I see this lawsuit as an uphill battle for the states in question. Rather like Tesla’s (TSLA) promises to sell safe, functional cyber trucks.

First, it was supposed to hit the market in 2021. Then that was pushed to 2022. Now, it’s 2023.

But I guess that’s what you get from a company founded and run by such an eccentric genius: unreliable innovation.

Elsewhere, three big banks reported Q4 information on Friday: JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), and Wells Fargo (WFC). The latter’s news reassured investors about its prospects and the larger economy.

The other two, however, experienced deflated fixed income, and currency and commodities issues that weren’t so well-received – part of why the Dow fell the way it did to end the week.

Finally, before we move on to our real estate investment trust (REIT) section, I do want to mention how China’s economy grew 8.1% last year. That was 0.1% faster than expectations and far better than its “above 6%” target.

Plus, that’s despite its continuing real estate woes and Covid outbreaks.

The World According to REITs

The following few news stories aren’t REIT-specific. But they do much more directly affect them. Like the continuing chaos hitting U.S. airlines. And this time, it really is the weather.

The storm that slammed into the Southeast yesterday caused nearly 5,700 delayed flights and 4,700+ cancellations. It also left tens of thousands in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida without power.

Then there are U.S. retail sales, with Yahoo Finance reporting:

The value of overall purchases decreased 1.9% after a revised 0.2% gain a month earlier, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation, suggesting price-adjusted receipts were even weaker than the headline number…

The year-end slide in retail purchases sets up for a tepid handoff to the first quarter.

The restaurant industry in particular lost traffic during the month, with some of that due to staffing shortages. It’s difficult to stay open your full regular hours when there are not enough workers available, after all.

As for the REIT landlords that accommodate so many of those businesses, I’ve got two updates below despite the market’s day off:

  • EPR Properties (EPR) announced its 2021 shareholder-related tax information, where it paid $1.25 per common share. The company listed off its various preferred share total payouts as well.
  • Apartment Income REIT (AIRC) saw Jefferies Financial Group upgrade its shares from a hold to a buy. It also raised its price expectations from $52 to $63.

That’s all I’ve got of that kind of news for today. But I’m sure we’ll be back again with plenty to talk about once Tuesday comes.

Brad Thomas is the Editor of the Forbes Real Estate Investor.

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