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File photo of Riocan CEO Ed Sonshine.

Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, which has been on an acquisition spree in recent years, said Thursday that it bought more than $1-billion worth of real estate in 2012.

But it also disclosed that at the moment it's in talks to buy just $68-million worth of properties in Canada and the U.S., as it seeks to sell 14 properties in Canada that collectively are valued at more than $600-million.

Analysts suggest that the company, Canada's largest real estate investment trust, has now reached a new stage in its strategy that will see it be more selective about the acquisitions it makes. And it is taking advantage of higher property values to sell a number of shopping centres in non-core markets, as it sharpens its focus on large cities.

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On Thursday the firm reported net profit attributable to unitholders of $468-million, or $1.55 per common unit, for the fourth quarter, up from $241-million, or 87 cents per unit, in the same period a year earlier.

Once taxes and gains on investment properties are factored out, the earnings amounted to $123-million for this latest quarter, up from $98-million.

The shopping centre owner said that same store net operating income rose by 0.2 per cent from a year ago and by 1.9 per cent from the prior quarter. Operating funds from operations, a measure of the cash flow that comes from owning and receiving income properties, was $116-million in the fourth quarter, up from $100-million a year earlier.

"We are very pleased with the performance of the portfolio through what was, as anticipated, a challenging year," CEO Ed Sonshine stated in a press release. "We are excited about the opportunities for continued growth in the portfolio on multiple fronts as we enter RioCan's 20 th year as a publicly traded REIT."

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