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Shares of Highwoods Properties Inc. (HIW - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high touching $39.08 almost at the end of the trading session on Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013, as it gained momentum after reporting a decent fourth quarter 2012 results. The closing price of this real estate investment trust (REIT) on Mar 13, 2013, was $39.01, representing a solid year-to-date return of 16.3%. The average trading volume over the last 3 months was 0.9 million shares.

Despite hitting its 52-week high, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has plenty of upside left given its strong estimate revisions over the last 30 days.

Growth Drivers

Highwoods Properties reported mixed fourth quarter 2012 results with core FFO standing in line and revenues beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The successful implementation of its strategic plan, which led to concentration of company’s properties in the high-growth Sun Belt markets, was the major growth driver. Particularly, completion of EQT Plaza acquisition in Pittsburgh – one of its core operating markets – strengthened Highwoods Properties’ footprints and expanded its market share to 40%.

On Feb 12, Highwoods Properties reported fourth quarter 2012 core FFO (funds from operations) of 68 cents per share, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate and lagged the year-ago quarter’s figure by a couple of cents. However, for full year 2012, core FFO per share increased 5.8% year over year to $2.73 and was also well ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.71. Though the company benefited from decent leasing and portfolio restructuring activity, a pressure on rent acted as a headwind.

Notably, Highwoods Properties has now delivered positive earnings surprises in 4 straight quarters with an average beat of 2.24%.

Estimate Revisions Show Potency

Over the last 30 days, 4 estimates for 2013 have been revised upward, lifting the Zacks Consensus Estimate to $2.75 per share. On the other hand, 1 estimate for 2014 has also moved higher, raising the Zacks Consensus Estimate to $2.84 per share.   

Recently, a number of REITs reached 52-week high tip. This includes CBRE Group (CBG - Analyst Report), which reached 52-week high of $25.45 on Mar 12, 2013. Also, on Mar 8, Duke Realty Corporation (DRE - Analyst Report) and DDR Corp. (DDR - Analyst Report) reached 52-week highs of $16.65 and $17.74, respectively.

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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