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Shares of Duke Realty Corporation (DRE - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high, touching $18.71 at the end of the trading session on May 16. The closing price of this office and industrial real estate investment trust (REIT) reflected a strong year-to-date return of 36%. The trading volume for the session was over 2.6 million shares.

Despite its strong price appreciation, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), stock has plenty of upside left, given its strong estimate revisions over the last 30 days and expected year-over-year funds from operations (FFO) growth of 6.10% for 2013.

Growth Drivers

Decent first-quarter 2013 results – including a rise in same-property net operating income and consistent performance of the overall portfolio – as well as strong portfolio repositioning activity were the key growth drivers for Duke Realty.

In addition, the company maintains a sound and flexible balance sheet with ample liquidity that enables it to capitalize on potential acquisition opportunities to fuel its top-line growth. At the end of the first quarter of 2013, Duke Realty had no balance outstanding under its line of credit.

On Apr 24, Duke Realty reported first-quarter 2013 core FFO (funds from operations) of 26 cents per share, in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate and above the prior-year quarter FFO of 24 cents per share. The 8.3% rise in year-over-year core FFO per share reflects the successful execution of strategic plans. In particular, strong same-property performance and lower preferred dividends aided the growth.

Estimate Revisions Show Potency

Over the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for full-year 2013 FFO per share moved up 0.9% to $1.08. Additionally, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 FFO ascended 1.8% to $1.14 per share.

Other companies in the REIT sector that hit 52-week highs on the same day include Ventas, Inc. (VTR - Analyst Report), HCP Inc. (HCP - Analyst Report) and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (ARE - 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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