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Analyst: Why Does Cousins Stay Public?

Could Cousins Properties be a target to go private? One REIT analyst thinks so. 


Paramount Capital Corp's Joseph Ori penned an analysis of Cousins stock valuation and investment potential this past week, in which he questioned why the Atlanta-based REIT continues to remain publicly traded. "We are not sure why CUZ is public with assets of only $2.6B and a market cap of $2.2B," Joseph writes. "It may be a candidate for going private or acquisition transaction." Under the leadership of CEO Larry Gellerstedt (here), Cousins has focused a majority of its office growth in Dallas and Houston, where it tallies Occidental Oil & Gas Corp and Apache Corp among its largest corporate tenants.


Joseph also notes Cousins' big 2015 leasing win: The 255,400 SF renewal of Transocean Offshore at Greenway Plaza Building in Houston through 2023. But it's tenants like Transocean, Apache and Occidential that give Joseph pause in his report. “[Cousins'] tenant base is concentrated in the energy industry with 23.3% of total square footage,” he writes. “We are concerned about the concentration of energy companies in the portfolio and the potential softness in the Dallas and Houston office markets, which will become more evident in the Q2 2015 10Q. Nonetheless, total occupancy with Cousins' portfolio rose more than 5% to 91.5%, with average rents skyrocketing 33.6%, he writes.