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Fund spotlight

Real Estate Investment Trust funds invest in stocks of companies that delve into commercial real estate - malls, apartments, offices, etc. REIT funds took a beating in 1998. The average return: minus 17.4 percent, according to mutual-fund watcher Morningstar Inc. But many analysts expect these funds to turn around this year, as a result of rising rents and other positive market conditions. Below, the best returns in a bad year for REIT funds.

Total return

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Fund name 1-yr 3-yr.*

Alpine International Real Estate Y -5.2 14.2

888-785-5578

Van Kampen US Real Estate A -10.0 N/A

800-421-5666

Van Kampen Real Estate Secs A -11.7 12.8

800-421-5666

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Columbia Real Estate Equity -12.8 13.7

800-547-1707

Cohen & Steers Equity Income A -13.0 N/A

800-437-9912

Crabbe Huson Real Est. Invest. A -13.1 10.8

800-541-9732

Delaware REIT A -13.3 16.4

800-523-4640

Victory Real Estate Investment A -13.3 N/A

800-539-3863

Templeton Global Real Estate A -13.5 2.3

800-342-5236

Source: Morningstar Inc. As of Feb. 2 market close

N/A: not available, fund less than three years old

*Annualized

WHITNEY DODDS WOODRUFF