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AUSTIN, TX-While American Campus Communities Inc. reported plenty of black ink on its sheet during 2008, executives during the company’s Q4 earnings conference call on February 18 were philosophical about a repeat performance, suggesting not to expect more of the same in 2009. But with funds from operations increasing 64% year-over-year from $26.3 million to $43.2 million, and with demand for student housing continuing strong, the local company should weather the current downturn in decent fashion.

Other operating results numbers were positive as well. Revenue for the 2008 fourth quarter was $89.3 million, an increase of 85% from the $42.3 million during Q4 2007. Also, thanks to the GMH portfolio acquisition and openings of the 613-unit Vista del Sol at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ and the 196-unit Villas at Chestnut Ridge, which serves the State University of New York’s Buffalo, NY campus, operating income for the fourth quarter was also up $1.4 million form the prior year’s fourth quarter figures. Total revenue was $235 million, up from $147 million in 2007, with net loss totaling $13.1 million.

“2008 was a strong year for American Campus Communities,” said company CEO Bill Bayless during the conference call. “In 2009, the company will face unprecedented challenges.” To push through, he continued, American Campus Communities will focus on operations, while taking what he noted would be a disciplined approach to investments.

But the company is fortunate in one regard: Educational institutions are outsourcing much of their student housing development due to cash constraints. American Campus Communities, which has street cred thanks to longevity, is reaping that benefit.

In recent months, the company was selected by Washington State University in Pullman, WA to begin planning an American Campus Equity project. Additionally, Boise State University in Idaho asked American Campus Communities to begin the planning on a multi-phased project that could lead to a development containing approximately 2,000 beds.

Still, the company’s guidance for 2009 was somewhat conservative, offering an FFO in the range of $1.59 to $1.77 per fully diluted share. In addition, the company is ready to begin marketing a seven-property portfolio valued at $150 million for sale at the end of Q1, Bayless said.

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