Liberty Property Trust (LRY), a real estate investment trust (REIT), divested 14 office and flex properties to Lingerfelt  Development, spanning 918,889 square feet of space in Richmond  for approximately $97 million.

Liberty Property operates in multiple markets, enabling the company to mitigate geographical risk. In each of these markets, the company offers an appropriate mix of office and industrial properties, sufficient for it to be recognized as a significant participant in the market.

Furthermore, Liberty Property is continuing its portfolio repositioning program as it focuses on higher growth markets characterized by better job and rent growth prospects. The company’s strategy is to decrease its exposure in the suburban office properties and increase its industrial footprint in the Richmond and Hampton market.

After the sale, Liberty property owns nearly 4 million square feet of office and industrial properties in the Richmond area. The region also manages approximately 1.7 million square feet of office and industrial space in Hampton.

Recently the company also divested 32 properties, spanning 1.4 million square feet of space in the Lehigh Valley region in Pennsylvania for approximately $124 million.

Based in Pennsylvania, Liberty Property provides leasing, property management, development, construction management, design management, and related services for a portfolio of industrial and office properties. The company has a strong portfolio of multi-tenant industrial and office properties in prime business locations in the U.S. and U.K., and operates across multiple markets that enable mitigation of geographical risk.

In first quarter 2011, Liberty Property reported FFO (fund from operations) of 64 cents per share, which was at par with the year-earlier quarter. Fund from operations, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, is obtained after adding depreciation and amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income. For fiscal 2011, the company expects FFO in the range of $2.50-$2.65.

Liberty Property currently retains a Zacks #4 Rank, which translates into a short-term Sell rating. We are also maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. One of its competitors, Duke Realty Corp (DRE) currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

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