Highwoods fourth-quarter earnings beat Wall Street estimates

Highwoods Properties reported fourth-quarter earnings late Monday that beat Wall Street estimates as the company completed one of its busiest investment years on record.

The Raleigh real estate investment trust reported funds from operations, a profitability measure for REITs, of 74 cents per share for the quarter. That beat Wall Street analysts' consensus by a penny.

For the year, funds from operations were $2.84 per share, 3 cents above analysts’ consensus. The REIT forecasts funds from operations of between $2.82 and $2.94 per share in 2014.

Highwoods acquired $549 million in office properties last year and sold $286 million in assets. The company also announced $206 million in new development products, including a $110 million corporate campus for MetLife in Cary and a $35.8 million office building in GlenLake Park in Raleigh.

The 3.4 million square feet of office space that Highwoods acquired last year was, on average, 81 percent leased. CEO Ed Fritsch said in a statement that the company expects to boost those numbers in the coming months in part by improving operating efficiencies.

“The capital investment foundation we established in 2013 will provide significant long-term value for our company,” he said.

Earlier Monday, Highwoods shares closed at $37.27, up 52 cents. The stock is up 2 percent over the past year.