Fighting Back Against Inflation with Real Estate
Why sale-leasebacks should be a CFO's weapon of choice for battling rising prices
By: Zachary Pasanen | Investments
Inflation is at its highest point in 40 years. The consumer price index – a key indicator of inflation – rose 7.5% in the 12 months ending in January, far surpassing initial predictions from economists. For CFOs, this has meant a rapid increase in the cost of raw materials, manufacturing and overhead which significantly cuts into a businesses’ cash flows.
In addition, the US is currently in the midst of a labor shortage stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has forced CFOs to increase wages and other compensation in order to secure and retain talent – another big blow to a company’s cash flows.
To fight mounting costs, CFOs need to take a look at their company’s assets and find ways to free up capital on their balance sheets. One often overlooked asset is a company’s owned real estate.
For companies not in the business of owning real estate, these assets add a significant weight on the balance sheet. However, through a sale-leaseback, companies can sell their real estate to an investor for cash while simultaneously entering into a long-term lease. The benefit of this type of transaction is that companies can realize 100% of the value of an otherwise illiquid asset and can immediately invest that capital back into their core business. In today’s high-inflationary environment, this capital could be used to offset immediate rising wholesale and labor costs in addition to funding long-term growth initiatives. Furthermore, companies can retain full operational control of their assets following a sale-leaseback, meaning there’s no disruption to day-to-day business.
Now is also a particularly attractive time for CFOs to consider sale-leasebacks due to a number of macroeconomic factors. First, the U.S. Federal Reserve has signaled that they plan to raise interest rates as early as this month to counteract inflation. However, if a company pursues a sale-leaseback now, they can lock in today’s lower rates on a long-term basis. Second, competition for high-quality real estate – particularly industrial assets – remains at an all-time high due to investors seeking long-term, stable cash flows. As a result, corporate owners can secure a high price for their real estate, in addition to attractive lease structuring, giving them the opportunity to fully maximize the amount of proceeds they receive.
Inflation certainly won’t last forever, but even a few months, or years, of rising prices can be devastating for businesses. While there are a number of tools CFOs can leverage to mitigate the impact of inflation, sale-leasebacks should not be overlooked. Unlocking the value of corporate real estate and reinvesting those proceeds back into the business can not only help companies ride out the current wave of rising prices, but also set them up with the capital needed for long-term growth and success.