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After a few years of rather uninspiring returns, Emira Property Fund has quietly emerged as the top-performing property play among the JSE’s 50-odd real estate counters in the year so far. The stock has notched up a total return of about 27% from January 2 to August 10, way ahead of the SA listed property index’s dismal -21% over the same time. Emira was out of favour for a few years, mainly because of its overexposure to the underperforming office market. However, Momentum Investments head of property Nesi Chetty says management, under CEO Geoff Jennett and COO Ulana van Biljon, has made impressive headway in trimming its exposure to the office market and recycling the proceeds into higher-growth investments. In addition, Emira’s overall vacancies are at a fairly low 4.5%. "Management has done well in terms of tenant retention," says Chetty. "The extent of negative reversions in its office portfolio has also moderated somewhat." Last year, Emira decreased its office exposure from 4...

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