The majority of real estate investment trusts tracked by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods beat consensus expectations in their latest earnings reports, causing many firms to upwardly revise their 2011 estimates. According to KBW, earnings exceeded predictions for 28 of the 47 REITs the firm observes, 11 met expectations and eight fell short. Most company representatives have a positive outlook of market conditions based on their earnings reports. “We think the national economy may be in line for a stronger 2011 then we anticipated 90 days ago,” commented Bill Hankowsky, chief executive officer of Liberty Property Trust (LRY) which invests in office and industrial properties. “We’ve had six consecutive quarters with positive GDP growth and the sense from our customer base is that positive economic traction is underway.” Kenneth Bernstein, CEO of retail REIT Acadia Realty Trust (AKR), agreed that the investment market is strengthening. “We are seeing more sellers come to market as they recognize that the period when it made no sense to sell has clearly ended. And they either need capital for other problems or opportunities they’re seeing,” he said. David Neithercut, chief executive of multifamily REIT Equity Residential (EQR), said his company benefits from the continued decline in single-family homeownership rate because former owners are moving into his apartment properties. In addition, his existing residents “have wisely reassessed the benefits of single-family homeownership” and are renting longer. KBW reported 21 firms increased earnings estimates for 2011, while 10 decreased their estimates and 16 made no change. Timber REITs have revised their estimates upward the most, on average up 9%. Multifamily REITs are also trending upwards by 1% on an average. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.

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