BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Financial stocks have been on a tear, with a big contribution to performance coming from commercial real-estate services firms, which suffered during the recession as office space demand shrank but then strongly rebounded.
The group's shares averaged a gain of 29% last year after an 84% jump in 2009. This year, they're up 2.3%, on par with the rise in the S&P 500 Index. Analysts are beginning to question how far and long the run can continue.
Standard &Poor's, which has a "neutral" fundamental outlook on the real-estate services industry, says a few stocks could be a long-term play, with some firms benefitting from a continued industry consolidation.
"We still look for the rebound to be tepid compared to the boom years," S&P wrote of the commercial real estate industry's prospects on Feb. 5. "We think continuing tight credit and difficulty accessing capital will limit pricing for commercial, as well as residential, real estate."Commercial real estate firms buy and sell properties for clients as well as manage many of them after the sale. Here are four companies in the industry, most of which hold a dominant position, and a breakdown of performance and analysts' expectations.