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Nearly 40 million Americans invest in REITs

Cautious Optimism Guides Retail REIT Kimco

11/28/2012 | By Matthew Bechard

David Henry, vice chairman, president and CEO of Kimco Realty Corporation (NYSE: KIM), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2012: NAREIT's Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

Kimco, headquartered in Hyde Park, N.Y., owns and operates 922 neighborhood and community shopping centers across 44 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and South America. The company has specialized in retail shopping centers for more than 50 years and has been a publicly traded REIT since 1991.

Henry said while Kimco has invested in and made money in other asset classes over the decades, the company remains true to its core portfolio of neighborhood and community shopping centers.

"Kimco started in the 1950s developing shopping centers in Florida, and depending on the cycle, either acquired or developed centers," he said. "Kimco's core expertise and the relationships the company has built over the decades are generally retail oriented."

When it comes to consumer sentiment and shopping habits, Henry said it's interesting that consumer sentiment recently hit a four-year high despite ongoing economic concerns surrounding the fiscal cliff.

"I think we're all apprehensive about next year in terms of the government coming up with this 'grand compromise.' I do think there's a momentum to the recovery in terms of consumer spending and the shopping center industry and we hope it maintains the momentum.

He explained that the company is "cautiously optimistic" about the holiday shopping season adding that the back to school season was favorable in terms of same store sales growth.

Henry was also asked about Kimco's international portfolio in Canada and Mexico. He said that the Canadian economy continues to be strong and doesn't have some of the fiscal debt problems that the United States has.

"The long term prognosis for Canada is excellent. We're very happy with the assets we have. Our only challenge is how do we grow in Canada because prices are so high," Henry said.

Additionally, Henry said that Mexico is very under-retailed when compared to the United States. 

"The U.S. has about 100,000 community and neighborhood shopping centers and Mexico only has about 1000 for 106 million people, so there's great demand," he said.