Analysts say Northwest Florida already prospering

Assuming the current climate of the Florida real estate market, many investors are weary of St. Joe stock.  With it peaking at around $80/share in mid 2005, shares were at $42.30 this morning.  One thing that may not be as commonly known is the powerful position St. Joe is actually in.

If you remember a couple of weeks ago, I quoted Bob Toll in his “hunker-down” statement:

“You move from an expansion mode to protecting your balance sheet immediately. . .  Then you hunker down, build up your cash, wait for the blood in the streets and take advantage of the opportunities.”

St. Joe is a corporation run by smart business people.  Over the last 18 months, they’ve been cutting costs, paying off all their debt and building their cash reserves.  They’ve also restructured to focus on selling property to developers that is ready for development, what used to be called their specialty.

Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wachovia said that Northwest Florida is more attached to Alabama and Georgia then the hard-hit south Florida market.  Many communities in Alabama and Georgia are considered to be prospering.

With the new airport, Pier Park and an existing and new home/condo inventory that doesn’t even come close to that of many south Florida metropolitan and vacation areas, Northwest Florida is very well positioned to start seeing substantial growth in the next couple of years.

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