Insider stock sales typically don't account for much in determining a company's future growth. But when insiders are making significant purchases with their own money, it could very well be a signal that management thinks its stock is seriously undervalued.
That's why investors might want to take a closer look at Ashford Hospitality Trust
Along with many other players in the real estate market, Ashford has found its stock trading at far lower valuations from where it sat just a few months ago. As a result, not only has management instituted a buyback program of $50 million -- which, at today's prices, would be equivalent to about 5% of the REIT's outstanding shares -- but insiders have begun snapping up shares as well. In November alone, insiders have bought up more than $3.2 million worth of shares. Both the chairman and the CEO each purchased almost $1.5 million worth of stock, and various directors have bought thousands of shares as well.
Should investors act on their confidence? Well, consider the facts. Ashford owns, directly or through joint ventures, 119 hotels, with Marriott alone managing 46 of them. All except one are located in the U.S., and the REIT has acquired some 56 properties since June 2006. It's trading at just two-thirds of its book value, including $218 million worth of accumulated depreciation on the properties it owns.
In the third quarter, Ashford saw its RevPAR -- revenue per available room, a metric the hospitality industry uses to gauge operations -- increase by 5.5%, and it also achieved a 6.3% increase in average daily room rates (ADR). That's pretty much in line with Ashford's year-to-date totals, in which it benefited from 6% increases in room revenues and 7.2% increases in ADR. The price increases helped offset some occupancy weakness caused by renovations at some of its properties.
The results also compare favorably with those of competing REITs such as Hospitality Properties
Given the smart acquisitions, a depressed valuation, and the typical increase in hotel value over time, management's decision to invest in itself -- even as its dividend yields nearly 11% -- may indeed be a prudent move that we should pay some attention to.