Five suggested holiday stocking stuffers

`Tis the season for giving. From this journalist's perspective, here are some ideal stocking stuffers for any commercial industry professional.

Eraser board: This back-to-the-basics tool is a must-have item for the serious commercial real estate executive. Reporters' eyes tend to glaze over when sources rattle off numbers pertaining to swap spreads or cap rates. The eraser board allows the source to diagram any deal in detail, thereby bringing dull numbers to life. NBC-TV political analyst Tim Russert won rave reviews for his use of the white eraser board during coverage of the presidential contest on Election Night.

An added bonus is that the prop makes for a great photo opportunity. Ideal for CFOs, accountants and anyone else who shares financial data with the media. Markers are easily replaceable.

100 shares of REIT stock: Given that a litany of dot.coms have dot.bombed and that we appear to be heading for an economic soft landing at the very least, why not give the corporate real estate executive in your life the perfect contrarian investment? Indeed, statistical evidence supports my theory that the REIT sector has benefited at the expense of the very unsettled technology sector. Through Oct. 20 of this year, share prices of equity REITs were up 18% on average since Dec. 16, 1999, yet dividend yields remained more than 2% above the yield on 10-year Treasuries, according to NAREIT.

Compass: The value of Americans' 401K accounts have plummeted in recent months thanks to a stock market that has gone south. This magnetic device, which has been around since the 14th century, helps CEOs weather the storm by ensuring their companies proceed on a more northerly, stable track.

Shortfalls in projected corporate earnings combined with investor frustration over the performance of technology stocks and the Bush vs. Gore political stalemate have combined to let uncertainty reign supreme on Wall Street, not a good sign. As of this writing, the Nasdaq is off nearly nearly 50% for the year. I request a full and accurate Santa Claus rally.

Certificate for free media training: The Web is a great source of information for self-help enthusiasts who want to learn how to work with the media. Such training is ideal for the hard-charging, boastful CEO who has a difficult time understanding what a news story really is or who believes mistakenly that editorial coverage is tied directly to advertising support. This gift is highly recommended for media-savvy sources who are always in the deal-making mode.

Package of white table napkins: For any student of real estate history, this gift is a real treasure. Over the years, several real estate professionals have recounted how they and their fathers inked deals on the back of white table napkins. They smile proudly while reliving their war stories. For a more rumpled effect, fold the napkins several times. Pen not included.

From all of us here at NREI, have a happy holiday and a prosperous new year.

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