To say that the stock market was having a strong day on Monday would be a massive understatement. Thanks to positive COVID-19 vaccine trial data, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at an all-time high, and as of 10:30 a.m. EST, the S&P 500 was higher by more than 3.2%.
However, this pales in comparison with how some real estate stocks are doing, particularly those that own consumer-facing types of properties. Hotel real estate investment trust Ryman Hospitality Properties (NYSE:RHP) was up by 24%, and although it is an office REIT, Empire State Realty Trust (NYSE:ESRT) has a high reliance on tourism, which is why it is up by 23% for the day. Finally, experiential REIT EPR Properties (NYSE:EPR) is one of the market's biggest winners from today's news, with shares soaring by more than 33%.
The short explanation of today's moves is that a vaccine could help the United States get back to normal life faster, and all three of these REITs desperately need that if they want revenue to rebound to normal levels. Let's look at them one at a time.
Ryman Hospitality Properties operates hotels that focus on conventions, conferences, and large group events. Obviously, these aren't a thing right now. But the company's recent results have proven that there is a ton of long-tailed demand -- it successfully rebooked more than 1 million canceled room nights for 2021 and beyond. So, there is big profit potential if Ryman could get back to business as usual sooner rather than later.
Empire State Realty Trust is an office REIT that owns the Empire State Building and a portfolio of other office buildings in the NYC area. But the company gets a significant portion of its revenue from the observatory atop its namesake property, which has been a must-do for tourists. The observatory is open, but with traffic at 6% of normal levels, it really needs tourism to come back to the city.
EPR Properties owns a variety of "experiential" properties, but its No. 1 tenant type is movie theaters. Major operators, such as AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC) and Cineworld Group (LSE:CINE), two of EPR's top tenants, may not have the financial capability to endure shutdowns lasting well into 2020. With an effective vaccine around the corner, they might not have to.
We're still a long way from the finish line, as this result is just based on trial data and there's a lot that needs to happen before we can actually get a vaccine to hundreds of millions of Americans. However, these companies and their investors have been patiently waiting for light at the end of the tunnel, and they may have just received it.