Boston Properties (BXP) and CB Richard Ellis (CBG) top the list of real estate investment trusts expected to perform well over the next 12 months, according to Barclays Capital (BCS). Analysts at the investment banking firm mentioned Boston Properties, an office REIT, as a hot pick due to its strong balance sheets. In Friday’s report, Barclays said Boston Properties should benefit from the changing landscape in the office property market because of its geography and low leveraging. “Looking ahead, BXP has 1.9 million square feet of leases, 4.9% of total square footage, scheduled to expire during the remainder of 2011,” Barclays analysts said. “While recent leasing volumes indicate a level of activity sufficient to meet these expirations, management identified three specific vacancies that are expected to weigh on 2011 results.” Slow rent growth is the most important risk concerning Boston Properties, Barclays said, which may cause the stock price to miss Barclays’ target of $110. But analysts still expect a 7.7% return on investment over the next 12 months. CB Richard Ellis, the world’s largest commercial real estate firm, is a top pick for Barclays because of the company’s opportunity for even more growth. In February, CB Richard Ellis purchased three real estate investment management business from Dutch insurance company ING Group. Barclays said the acquisition, part of a $940 million deal, will expand CB Richard Ellis’ growth over the next several years. “CBG is highly leveraged due to increasing transaction volumes and pricing, particularly in the Americas,” Barclays said. The purchase helped reduce ING’s presence in the American market. Barclays anticipates CB Richard Ellis stock to hit $32 by next May. Rounding out Barclays’ list of REIT stocks projected to outperform the sector in the coming year are Camden Property Trust (CPT) and Digital Realty Trust (DLR). Camden holds properties across the South and Southwest, which were hit hard by the housing crisis. However, construction is expected to continue for several years in much of that part of the country, Barclays said. Analysts target price for this firm is $65. Digital Realty Trust’s track record as a data acquirer, redeveloper and operator is sufficient for Barclays to rank the firm as a top pick. The target price for Digital Realty is $67, about 10% higher than were the stock is currently trading. These are not the stocks with the highest implied returns based on price targets, the firm noted. “Rather they are the stocks we think most likely to outperform on a risk-adjusted basis,” Barclays said. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.

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