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Question 1006  CAPM, beta, leverage, WACC, real estate

Four retail business people compete in the same city. They are all exactly the same except that they have different ways of funding or leasing the shop real estate needed to run their retail business.

The two main assets that retail stores need are:

  • Inventory typically worth $1 million which has a beta of 2, and;
  • Shopfront real estate worth $1 million which has a beta of 1. Shops can be bought or leased.

Lease contract prices are fixed for the term of the lease and based on expectations of the future state of the economy. When leases end, a new lease contract is negotiated and the lease cost may be higher or lower depending on the state of the economy and demand and supply if the economy is:

  • Booming, shop real estate is worth more and lease costs are higher.
  • In recession, shop real estate is worth less and lease costs are low.
Assume that the market’s expected return is 10% pa, required returns are expected to remain constant, shop assets can be valued as a perpetuity of lease profits, and that buying, selling, shutting down, moving out, moving in and opening a new shop has negligible (low) cost. Store owners can invest surplus funds in alternative investments that also earn the 10% pa market return.

Which retail business person will have the LOWEST beta of equity (or net wealth)?