Logistics Shipping-Market Rebounds in 2024
The U.S. logistics industry is showing signs of recovery marking an end to its nearly two-year slump.
Growing Demand, Rising Freight Rates Indicate Rebound in Shipping
In early 2024, the U.S. logistics industry is showing signs of recovery, marking an end to its nearly two-year slump. This turnaround is highlighted by increased freight activity, rising containerized imports, and growing transportation prices.
Revival: January 2024 saw a significant rise in U.S. freight activities. Containerized imports experienced their highest month-over-month growth in seven years, as per Descartes Datamyne. Additionally, transportation prices increased for the first time since June 2022. This upsurge indicates retailers are restocking inventories, reversing their previous trend of cutting back.
Economic drivers: The broader economic landscape is contributing to this revival. The U.S. economy exhibited a 3.3% growth in Q4 2023, and December retail sales unexpectedly rose by 0.6%. These factors are positively impacting freight companies, which have struggled with an inventory surplus and reduced consumer spending on goods.
Cautious optimism: Industry leaders express cautious optimism. Paul Bunn of Covenant Logistics views the current trend as a potential "U-shaped recovery." Similarly, ArcBest observed a significant improvement in its contracted shipments, increasing by 8% year-over-year in January.
➥ THE TAKEAWAY
Sigh of relief: The logistics industry, once beleaguered by truck surpluses and plunging shipping volumes leading to notable collapses like Yellow and Convoy, is now witnessing a resurgence. A 5% rise in the Logistics Managers' Index and a surge in job creation signal renewed market confidence. Retailers, emerging from inventory excess, are realigning stock with sales, setting the stage for increased freight activity.
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A $22K Monthly LA Rental Showcases KKR’s Property Distress
The Los Angeles skyline. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg
KKR Real Estate Finance Trust faces increasing stress in its property investments, including a high-end apartment complex in West Hollywood.
Under pressure: A newly built apartment complex in West Hollywood featuring luxury amenities like a yoga studio and bowling alley is under financial strain despite high rental prices of $19,500 to $22,000 a month. The $105 million floating-rate loan for this 37-unit property is on KKR's watchlist of troubled debt, reflecting broader challenges in the multifamily and CRE sector.
Beyond offices: KKR's concerns extend beyond office buildings in cities like Philadelphia and Boston, encompassing various property types nationwide. This includes apartment buildings in San Diego and Raleigh and a life science facility in Seattle, indicating a widespread sector impact. Apartment buildings, once deemed safe investments due to rising homeownership costs, are now facing difficulties. Higher interest rates and an influx of new properties have increased operational costs while capping potential rent hikes.
The response: KKR REIT has reduced its dividend due to losses in office loans, leading to a significant drop in its stock value. The REIT, with 41% of its portfolio in apartments, is attempting to manage these challenges. CEO Matt Salem anticipates limited distress in the portfolio, mainly consisting of higher-quality apartments, but acknowledges potential issues.
Widespread distress: The U.S. apartment sector shows more than $67 billion in potentially distressed debt, exceeding the office sector's $54.7 billion. Additionally, a record addition of new apartments in 2023 poses further challenges, with the market expected to adjust only by 2025 due to a construction slowdown.
➥ THE TAKEAWAY
Why it matters: The commercial real estate sector, including KKR's LA properties, faces a crunch due to misplaced optimism in growth during low-interest times, now clashing with higher borrowing costs and market oversupply. This trend challenges current owners but opens doors for investors in distressed assets, signaling a significant market shift.
FHA multifamily loan closing fell to just over $1 billion in 4th Quarter 2023. Fewer transactions have improved processing times.
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