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Nearly 40 million Americans invest in REITs

Weyerhaeuser's REIT Conversion Profiled In REIT Magazine

02/01/2011 | By Wes Kirk

The January/February issue of REIT: Real Estate Investment Today magazine is now available in print and online at REIT.com. The cover story in this issue looks at the journey undertaken in 2010 of Weyerhaeuser Corp. (NYSE: WY) from forest products powerhouse to the newest timber REIT.

"As we evaluated our long-term strategy, we had to determine how we could ensure that we could operate, grow and enhance the earnings for our shareholders from this core asset," Weyerhaeuser CEO Dan Fulton told REIT magazine.

By converting to a REIT, Weyerhaeuser has done more than simply alter its tax structure. The company has opened itself up to new classes of investors in the process—those seeking steady income streams through dividends and portfolio diversification via exposure to commercial real estate and REITs.

As the first issue of a new year, the January/February typically includes a roundtable of leading experts looking at what occurred the previous year and what lies ahead. In this issue, REIT magazine spoke with five leading investment professionals to get their sense of the current and future health of the REIT market.

"The cost of capital coming down has benefited REITs not only with their current asset base, but also made them very competitive for external growth in a world where there is very little internal growth," Steve Buller, portfolio manager for the Fidelity Real Estate Investment Portfolio (FRESX), said.

Coming off two straight years of near 30 percent total returns, the investors were mindful of concerns the stocks may be fully valued, but were collectively optimistic that there was still room for more growth.

"Despite the huge run we have seen, we still consider the sector an attractive place to invest," said Mary Hogan Preusse, co-head of Americas Real Estate with APG Asset management U.S. "The as-yet unseen recovery story of banks ultimately shedding real estate and creating some attractive acquisition opportunities is one we are going to see play out over the next several years."

Also in this issue, REIT magazine spoke with American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC) President and CEO Bill Bayless. American Campus is one of the leading student housing operators in the country and Bayless founded the company in 1993. Bayless talked about the unique characteristics of student housing, the favorable market conditions and how college living is changing.

"Going public was the greatest challenge for American Campus Communities and for me professionally," Bayless said. "We had to convince Wall Street and institutional investors to overcome the misperceptions about our sector and position ourselves as a mainstream investment opportunity."

Be sure to read the current issue for even more information.