CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—US equity REITs raised atotal of $600.6 million from at-the-marketofferings in the first three months of 2014, a dropoff of 54% fromthe first quarter of 2013, says locally based SNLFinancial. However, the tally was up about $186 million,or 45%, from the $414.2 million raised through ATMs in Q4 of lastyear.

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Both the fundraising during Q1 and the number of REITs ennagedin ATMs during the quarter lagged the nmbers a year prior. In Q1'13, 36 real estate trusts raised $1.3 billion through ATMprograms; in Q1 of 2014, only 20 such programs tapped the publicmarkets.

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Fundraising champ through ATMs in Q1 was Essex PropertyTrust Inc., which completed an aggregate $157.6 million incommon equity. The West Coast apartment REIT accounted for morethan a quarter of the total amount raised in the first three monthsof the year by US equity REITs, according to SNL. The remainingshares of ESS's March 29, '13 ATM program were rolled into its May16, '14 program, resulting in a total of up to four million sharesbeing offered.

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STAG Industrial Inc. sold the second-largestdollar amount through at-the-market offerings during Q1. TheBoston-based REIT raised $77.6 million through two separateprograms, announced Dec. 14, 2012, and March 10, 2014,respectively. In terms of the number of shares sold through an ATMprogram, the leader was Denver-based DCT Industrial Trust, whichsold an aggregate of 5.9 million shares, raising $44.2 million.

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As of June 10, 17 domestic equity REITs had announced ATMoffering programs since the current year began. That compares to 27REITs which had announced such programs over the same period in'13.

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Three years ago, it was a different story. The Wall StreetJournal reported in 2011 that REITs accounted for 82% of the$1.9 billion in ATMs registered with the SEC as of August of thatyear.

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The Journal cited, among other things, the lower costassociated with an ATM program compared to a follow-on offering.Conversely, the Journal noted that public investors don'tlike ATMs as much because it gives them less say about use of theproceeds.

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Among the REITs announcing new programs year-to-date, Jackon,MS-based industrial REIT EastGroup Properties Inc.launched the largest program. A Feb. 19 SEC filing inducated thatits proposed maximum aggregate offering price for the programequals approximately $607 million. During Q1, EastGroup issued andsold 321,645 shares of common stock under its continuous equityprogram at an average price of $62.18 per share, with grossproceeds of $20 million.

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YTD, Boston Properties' $600-million programhas been the second largest to be announced. The Boston-basedoffice REIT announced on June 3 that would relace its prior$600-million ATM program, which had expired the day before.

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SNL notes that among the 17 deals announced YTD, MerrillLynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. and WellsFargo Securities LLC will act as selling agents in 11 andnine of the deals, respectively. Merrill Lynch is among the salesagents in BXP's offering, for example, with others includingBNY Mellon Capital Markets, Deutsche BankSecurities Inc., J.P. Morgan SecuritiesLLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.