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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Last week I told you about a diamond in the rough named Retail Opportunity Investment (ROIC) - Get Free Report. This REIT and owner of around 45 shopping centers has built a strategic platform of investing in high-quality retail properties in southern and northern California, Portland, and Seattle.

With a value proposition centered around necessity branded tenants, ROIC has grown by leasing space many leading national chains including

Safeway

(SWY)

,

Kroger

(KR) - Get Free Report

,

Albertson's

,

PetSmart

(PETM)

, and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Free Report

.

Also see: REIT Offers 'Margin of Safety': ROIC

In addition, ROIC's differentiated model focuses on acquiring properties from distressed or under-capitalized shopping center owners. This focused strategy has enabled the company to capitalize on its extensive network of relationships with retailers, brokers, institutional owners, banks, private owners, and other real estate operators.

With a market cap of around $921 million and a very conservative capital structure, ROIC has the potential to be a top REIT performer this year. On March 15, the company had approximately $12.0 million outstanding on its $250 million unsecured credit facility and a total debt to market capitalization ratio of approximately 25%, based on total debt outstanding of approximately $293.6 million and 66.3 million shares of common stock outstanding.

ROIC recently announced that 57.3% of the company's total outstanding warrants have been retired including 12,570,226 warrants exercised, providing ROIC with around $150.8 million of proceeds, 7.75 million warrants repurchased by ROIC for around $10.7 million, and 8 million founders' warrants.

Since that news, ROIC shares have climbed over 7%, to $13.89 (shares hit an all-time high of $13.95 on March 22). ROIC's dividend yield is 4.32% and the company expects to grow its income by acquiring more high-quality assets. In 2012, the San Diego-based REIT acquired 14 shopping centers amounting to $276.1 million, including five shopping centers acquired in Q4 for $139.3 million.

Also see: All Bets Are Off for Empire State Realty Trust

Recently I was in New York City and I had an opportunity to meet with ROIC's Stuart Tanz at TheStreet. Tanz provided some insightful news on how this REIT is making waves.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.