Mall-focused real estate investment trust (REIT) Washington Prime Group (NYSE: WPG) lost nearly 30% of its value in the first hour of trading on Feb. 16. There was no question about why: The company filed a very concerning update with the SEC.
The first big piece of news in the SEC filing was that the REIT chose to withhold a $23.2 million interest payment due on Feb. 15. Washington Prime has 30 days to resolve this issue or it would constitute a default and allow some of the bondholders to demand early repayment. It is never a good sign when a company willingly refuses to pay its obligations, though it isn't surprising that a mall landlord would be facing financial strain given the negative impact the pandemic has had on the retail sector.
Image source: Getty Images.
In the same filing, meanwhile, Washington Prime also announced that it was hiring Kirkland & Ellis LLP as its legal counsel and Guggenheim Securities, LLC as an investment banker as it looked to work with its lenders. This could be a tactic to force Washington Prime's lenders into granting concessions, but investors clearly aren't waiting around to find out if a deal can be worked out.
The clear concern here is that a troubled REIT (it hasn't paid a dividend since the first quarter of 2020) in a troubled property sector is at risk of going bankrupt. Given the missed interest payment and the hiring of advisors, that's not an unreasonable fear. Most investors should probably avoid Washington Prime for now.
10 stocks we like better than Washington Prime Group Inc.
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Washington Prime Group Inc. wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.
*Stock Advisor returns as of November 20, 2020
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.