CHICAGO-According to a recent Grant Thornton LLP study, a commercial real estate company that has a top-dog business position at the beginning of a recession will likely fall in line with the rest of the pack through the downturn. The locally-based firm says its research shows that acting on opportunities, carefully weighing cost vs. long-term value contribution, is a better strategy than limping along and trying to survive.

The company released its report Monday, with 100 real estate companies analyzed from 1997 through 2009 (primarily REITs). “Our findings suggest that benefits from a recovery are redistributed among industry players and are not necessarily correlated to pre-recession performance levels,” said Paul Melville, a partner in the firm. According to the study, the companies that had been the best balance sheets still saw their businesses down among the second- and third-tier firms at the end of 2009.

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