In its third attempt this year to boost its lackluster stock price, Newhall Land & Farming Co. on Thursday said it would expand its stock buyback program to purchase as much as 20% of its outstanding shares.
Newhall Land, which developed Valencia in northern Los Angeles County, said it would finance the buyback by selling up to $175 million of its commercial property and tapping bank lines of credit. The firm said it would purchase the shares in the open market and in block transactions through next year.
The announcement was greeted warmly by industry analysts but got a more modest response from investors. On the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, Newhall Land shares, which the company refers to as partnership units, rose 81 cents to close at $24.50.
Newhall Land's unit price has remained stuck in the $25 range for the last year despite previous stock buyback programs. In January, the company said it would buy back 1 million units--a figure it doubled in May. Under the newly expanded program, Newhall Land will purchase an additional 5.5 million units.
So far this year, the firm has purchased nearly 1.4 million units at an average price of $24.20.
"The timing for such a program is excellent, as many real estate values for both land and developed properties are at record highs," Newhall Land Chairman Thomas L. Lee said in a statement.