Speaking bluntly, Ashford Prime is currently in a bad situation. For example, its 6 times AFFO is below that of its peers. Furthermore, its current share price is $11, which is well below the expected share price of $27 based nothing but the value of its net assets estimated by its management.
These problems can be partially traced to the fighting between the management of Ashford Prime and the activist hedge fund Sessa Capital. Both sides have been locked in the struggle ever since Sessa Capital came in with the intention of rushing the sale of the company and making a profit on its investment, but the result has been nothing but bad for the stakeholders.
For example, the management of Ashford Prime has taken serious blows to their reputation because of their evident greed and entrenchment, while Sessa Capital has been pulled into an uncertain and exhaustive legal battle even though their intention was to make a profit. Finally, the investors have lost most of all because of the plummeting share price, which is particularly concerning because the REIT’s current situation makes it an excellent choice for speculative investors rather than their long-term counterparts, suggesting that its share price will continue to be volatile for the foreseeable future.
At the moment, the future of Ashford Prime remains uncertain. The REIT will be holding its annual shareholders’ meeting on June 10, which will include the election of the members of its board of directors. Already, there are complications, seeing as how the management of Ashford Prime has stated that they will be ignoring Sessa Capital’s slate of five candidates while it remains to be seen whether Sessa Capital has convinced enough of the institutional investors, who make up about 62 percent of the shareholders, to reject its rival’s recommendations.
Things should be particularly interesting because while the management of Ashford received full support from the shareholders at the last annual shareholders’ meeting, that was before the 30 percent fall in the REIT’s share price. Similarly, Sessa Capital has a hard time backing out, seeing as how it stands to lose at least $8 million (from its 31 December 2015 position) if they decide to sell right now, which is not an insignificant sum considering their portfolio of hundreds of millions of dollars.
With that said, the management of Ashford Prime has been making efforts to raise its share price, with examples ranging from increasing its dividend yield to 4.4 percent, repurchasing shares, and selling a handful of its hotels to raise more funds. As a result, it might have some potential for speculative investors who are willing to take a small chance on them.
Source:Ashford Hospitality Prime, Inc(NYSE:AHP)
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