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Shares of Duke Realty Corporation (DRE - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high, touching $17.70 towards the end of the trading session on May 28, as it gained momentum following decent first-quarter results. The closing price of $17.61 of this real estate investment trust (REIT) reflected a strong year-to-date return of 19.4%. The trading volume for the session was over 1.7 million shares.

Despite its strong price appreciation, this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), stock has plenty of upside left, given the improving operating environment, expected second-quarter 2014 earnings growth of 7.04%, exposure to recession-resistant healthcare sector and long-term growth of 4.41%.

Growth Drivers

Decent first-quarter 2014 results – including a rise in revenues and same-property net operating income – as well as strong portfolio repositioning activity were the key growth drivers for Duke Realty.

In particular, this real estate investment trust (REIT) is making concerted efforts to lower its suburban office assets, as the fundamentals of this market remain weak, and is along side enhancing its bulk industrial properties. This portfolio repositioning is expected to improve internal growth metrics, enabling the company to emerge stronger after full recovery of the real estate market.

On Apr 30, Duke Realty reported first-quarter 2014 core funds from operations (FFO) per share of 28 cents, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The results compared favorably with the prior-year quarter figure of 26 cents. The performance was aided by a rise in revenues, which registered 14.0% year-over-year growth and beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $222.0 million.

Over the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for full-year 2014 FFO per share remained stable at $1.15. Nevertheless, for 2015, it ascended by a penny to $1.22 per share.

Other Stocks to Consider

Some other REITs that reached 52-week highs on May 28 include The St. Joe Company (JOE - Analyst Report), CBRE Group, Inc. (CBG - Analyst Report) and Chatham Lodging Trust (CLDT - Snapshot Report).

Note: Funds from operations, a widely accepted and reported measure of REITs performance, are derived by adding depreciation, amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

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