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Nearly 40 million Americans invest in REITs

Entertainment Properties Prospering in Tough Times

03/04/2011 | By Matthew Bechard

While the Great Recession crippled a number of businesses and industries, the economic downturn has actually been a positive for Entertainment Properties Trust (NYSE: EPR), according to David Brain, the company's president and CEO.

Entertainment Properties' portfolio includes movie theaters, which Brain singled out as a particularly strong performer for the company. In an interview with REIT.com, Brain noted that going to the movies is one of the country's most popular entertainment activities and with an average ticket price of $8, it's affordable as well.

Entertainment Properties also owns ski properties, but Brain pointed out that the company's facilities tend to be spots for daily visits, as opposed to overnight resort areas. Consequently, the firm's ski properties offer customers a lower-cost alternative to resorts.

"Our properties are really geared to be an economical out-of-home experience," he said. "They tend to fit with the 'stay-cations' and other comparable themes of the Great Recession, so our properties did very well during that time. We saw an increase in performance at revenues and profits and coverage of our rents."

Brain also said going to the movies is evolving from a "single-class experience" to a "multi-class experience" with different features and levels of service. He likened the trend to the traditional air travel business model, in which customers can purchase tickets in first class and have access to a variety of amenities or sit in standard coach-class seats.

Regarding Entertainment Properties' charter school assets, Brain said they share a number of similarities with the rest of company's portfolio, such as specialized use and durability. Additionally, Brain said the general lack of familiarity with the charter school sector makes it less competitive than other areas.

Given Entertainment Properties' focus on specialized property types, Brain said it's likely the company will branch out into other categories beyond its core holdings of movie theaters, ski properties and charter schools "over time." For the time being, though, the firm is concentrating on its current areas of focus, according to Brain.

"That's going to satisfy our development for a while," he said. "But over time, certainly I think the company will find other categories and begin to spread its wings even more."
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