Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus downgraded Highwoods Properties from hold to sell in a new report.
The report cites several concerns for the Raleigh real estate investment trust, including the high cost of gaining occupancy in the current environment and the possibly that rent growth will be slow in Highwoods' markets.
"The non-gateway city office markets are over 20 percent vacant and rent growth typically does not occur until a submarket is below 10 percent vacant," the report says.
Stifel analysts expect companies to be able to increase occupancy in their portfolio by one to two percent a year.
"So to get to 94 percent will be often be a four plus year effort," the report said.
Highwoods 35 million-square-foot portfolio was 88.9 percent occupied at the end of September, up from 87.8 percent during the same period a year ago.
Stifel analysts didn't adjust their estimates for Highwoods funds from operations, a profitability measure for REITs,
Of the 12 analysts who cover Highwoods, Stifel is the only one with a sell rating on the stock.