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NEW YORK CITY-Pointing out that AMB Property Corp.’s same-store net operation income growth of 7.3% was well ahead of the peer average for Q1, Banc of America Securities LLC has reiterated its buy recommendation for the company. Analysts Mitchell Germain and Christy McElroy predict the San Francisco-based REIT will show above average core and earnings growth throughout 2008, with the stock price rising to $63 a share compared to $59.27 a share as of April 25.

According to Germain’s and McElroy’s report, the solid results underscore the company’s quality portfolio concentrations in high-growth and supply-constrained logistics markets. The researchers believe AMB should continue to benefit from healthy global industrial fundamentals driven by the reconfiguration of the supply chain and product obsolescence. In general, BofA Securities market-weights the industrial sector based on an “overweight” to global industrial REITs and “underweight” to US industrial. “We believe global trade trends will lead to better-than-expected demand in markets that are directly linked to the global distribution network,” Germain and McElroy state in the report.

Germain and McElroy further say the REIT’s solid portfolio concentrations moderate any risk of slowing demand. They contend AMB’s portfolio is less susceptible to slowing industrial fundamentals because the company derives over 70% of its rents from key port and airport markets. In addition, AMB’s growing global platform, with about 70% of new development starts and acquisitions projected to be outside the US, should mitigate some of the effects of a potential US slowdown. The company expects to grow its development platform to $1.6 billion by 2010, with about 70% of new development outside the US. AMB’s private capital platform, which currently manages over $7.6 billion , is expected to raise capital for a Canada and non-Japan Asia fund over the next 12 months.

For ’08, AMB projects total capital deployment of more than $2.1 billion, comprising $850 million of acquisitions and $1.3 billion of development starts. The analysts emphasize that the REIT has adequate capital to fund this plan, with limited near-term debt maturities, $600 million available on its credit facility, $300 million of cash on hand and a co-investment platform with over $2.5 billion of capacity available. It also continues to enjoy a healthy interest rate for secured debt from life companies. Additionally, AMB expects to see a positive earnings contribution from its value-add conversion platform; which readies land entitled for industrial development to higher use.

According to the two analystst, AMB’s valuation remains “compelling,” with shares trading at a discount of 11% to forward net asset value (FW NAV) and 9% to discount cash flow (DCF). Furthermore, AMB is currently trading at 17 times adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) for ’08, which represents a modest 7% premium relative to its industrial peers, versus a historical premium of about 20%. Despite the buy recommendation, Germain and McElroy tweaked earlier estimates of profitability due to AMB management’s more cautious outlook on US industrial fundamentals and the tempering of rent and occupancy assumptions. As a result, they reduced their ’08 estimate of funds from operations per share by $0.02 to $3.99.

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