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BOSTON-Some of the largest office REITs in the nation are continuing to report higher FFO and generally positive results in the changing economy. But, the rate of growth is relatively flat, according to their newest quarterly reports.

GlobeSt.com looked at Boston Properties Inc., Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. and Douglas Emmett, all among the largest office REITs in the country. The common thread is the uncertain capital markets hasn’t kept the trio from buying, selling and developing.

At Boston Properties, which owns 139 properties totaling about 43.9 million sf, Q1 FFO crept up only one penny per share to $1.11 in comparison with FFO of $1.10 for first quarter 2007. Total FFO rose $1.7 million to $134.7 million on a year-to-year basis. The REIT’s net income for the latest quarter showed a dramatic decline from the net income of last year’s first quarter–down to $88.5 million from last year’s $854.3 million–but that was because last year’s net income jumped on the basis of one-time gains on sales of 5 Times Square for $1.2 billion and the Long Wharf Marriott hotel for $231 million, respectively.

Pasadena, CA-based Alexandria, which specializes in office and lab space for the life sciences industry reported first-quarter FFO of $46.9 million and $1.48 per share compared to FFO of $40.3 million for the same quarter last year. Like Boston Properties, Alexandria reported one-time gains that boosted net income. The REIT’s net income more than doubled to $34.7 million and $1.09 per share in comparison to net income of $15.1 million and 52 cents per share in 2007. But, this year’s results showed gains of more than $20 million on the sales of six properties. Alexandria owns 159 properties totaling 13.3 million sf, of which 11.7 million sf is existing and 1.6 million sf is under development.

Alexandria also reported it is continuing to win rent increases for new leases and renewals, with the rates on average about 14.1% higher than rental rates for expiring leases, a reflection in part of the strong life sciences sector. For the first quarter, the company executed 48 leases totaling 570,000 sf at 31 different properties, of which about 369,000 sf were deals in existing assets and about 201,000 sf at its newly developed space. About 89% of the REIT’s leases are triple-net rents.

Douglas Emmett, which is based in Santa Monica, CA, reported the largest gain in FFO among the three REITs, an increase to $53.4 million and 34 cents per share in comparison to $46.4 million and 28 cents per share in the first quarter last year. Jordan L. Kaplan, the REIT’s president and CEO, said in its recent conference call that “changing market conditions are permitting us to move more aggressively into the acquisition arena.”

Kaplan pointed out the REIT this year has acquired a small office building in Honolulu and a 1.4-million-sf portfolio of six class A office buildings in Los Angeles for $610 million. “We expect that a number of additional, large, attractive acquisition opportunities will develop in our markets,” Kaplan said.

Emmett’s acquisitions typify the continued buying, selling and selective development by three of the large REITs despite the uncertain credit market conditions. Boston Properties, for example, is part of a joint venture developing the $115-million Wisconsin Place in Chevy Chase, MD, which has secured construction financing at a variable rate equal to Libor plus 1.25%. Alexandria sold six California properties totaling nearly 360,000 sf for $70 million during the first quarter. In addition to the 1.6 million sf that the company has under development, Alexandria redeveloped 103,267 sf of existing space at five properties during the first quarter.

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