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American Assets Focused on Internal Development

07/27/2012 | By Matthew Bechard

Despite the challenging market conditions, American Assets Trust (NYSE: ATT) has been successful in its plans to growth through internal development as opposed to acquisitions, according to John Chamberlain president and CEO of the San Diego based REIT.

"We've stayed pretty true to form and we were successful in acquiring an office building in San Francisco earlier this year," he told REIT.com in a video interview at REITWeek 2012: NAREIT's Investor Forum. "But the bulk of our efforts have been focused on developing properties w already own and adding additional pad buildings. That focus is going to continue."

The company has a diverse approach in that it own properties in multiple sectors. While he said most of the sectors are "firing on all cylinders," he added that one sector in American Asset's portfolio poses a potential challenge.

"I would describe our multifamily properties as being somewhat choppy," he said. "We have 5.4 percent same store growth net operating income, yet our occupancies are ticking up."

Chamberlain added that the company has a lot of product that competes with the single family home products.

"That's a challenge for us, but all of the other sectors as a whole are doing very well," he said.

American Assets has no plans to expand beyond its core markets, according to Chamberlain.

"We're spending 100 percent of our time in our core markets. Since we went public in Seattle we've come close on a couple of acquisition up there, but unfortunately we were the bridesmaid and not the bride," he said.

However, Chamberlain added that once the company finds the right opportunity, either on the West coast or in Hawaii, the company may affect a tax deferred exchange.