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HOUSTON-An increased occupancy portfolio-wide and robust acquisitions pipeline were among the many positive aspects for Weingarten Realty Investors’ third-quarter results.

The REIT’s senior management told shareholders and analysts in yesterday’s earnings call that declining activity on the grocery-anchored front, including the recent announcement from Randalls Foods & Drugs LP in Houston concerning a rash of Tom Thumb closings should have little impact on the Weingarten-run retail properties. “They only closed, in our entire portfolio, two properties. And, we have leases that extend to give us time to re-tenant those properties,” says Drew Alexander, Weingarten’s president and CEO. “We’ve been through a lot of these in the past and we end up getting a better mousetrap when it’s all finished.”

Alexander believes the Randall’s/Tom Thumb stores that do close could likely benefit those that remain open. Albertsons, he says, also is likely to end up with strong management. “Kroger is looking at it and we feel that’s a great operator,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Johnny Hendrix, the REIT’s CFO, reports there were 324 new leases and renewals completed in the third quarter, representing an additional 1.7 million sf and an increase of 6.9% in average income. He points out portfolio’s occupancy rose to 94.7% by the quarter’s close versus 93.8% for the same time period in the prior year.

Acquisitions also were strong: 506,000 sf, representing a total investment of $34 million. The acquired properties, both in Texas, were the Freeport Business Center in Stafford and Central Plano Business Center Park in Plano. “Additionally, in the acquisition pipeline, we have in excess of $100 million projects in various stages of due diligence,” Alexander says.

The pipeline has $200 million of product that is due to come on line in 2007 and 2008. The focus has been expansion and development in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Washington.

Alexander says next year’s estimated numbers for acquisition and disposition aren’t too different from this year, with about $350 million planned for acquisitions and $250 million for sales. But, he cautions not to put the numbers in stone. “We do have a certain number of things in the hopper,” he acknowledges. “If a high percentage of all of those things come together, we’ll sell in excess of $250 million, but we’ll have to see what opportunities come along.”

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