POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 2, 2012
General Growth Properties Inc., the second-biggest U.S. shopping mall owner and the owner of Ala Moana Center, said funds from operations excluding some items rose in the first quarter as tenant sales climbed amid increased consumer spending.
The company's so-called core FFO rose to $222.1 million, or 22 cents a share, from $208.2 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier, the Chicago-based company said Tuesday in a statement. Analysts expected core FFO, which excludes items such as discontinued operations and interest expense on repaid debt, of 21 cents a share, the average of nine estimates in a Bloomberg survey. FFO is a measure of a property owner's ability to generate cash.
The real estate investment trust in January completed its spinoff of 30 malls that have lower tenant sales into a company known as Rouse Properties Inc., allowing General Growth to focus on its better-performing retail centers.
(Among General Growth's best properties is Ala Moana. In February the company disclosed plans to buy out one of the mall's anchor tenants, Sears, to redevelop the store and possibly surrounding space for more profitable use.
General Growth intends to spend $500 million to buy back Sears' lease and remake the Ewa end of the state's largest shopping center. Sears expects to close the store in early 2014.
The mall owner also recently arranged a new $1.4 billion mortgage on Ala Moana at more attractive interest and maturity terms, a deal that should save General Growth money.)
Mall owners, particularly those with top-tier properties, are benefiting from rising rents and occupancies, said Keith Bokota, an analyst at Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Global Investors.
"Malls have done pretty well," Bokota said in a telephone interview Monday. "We've seen property-level income growing at a pretty good clip."
Principal Financial owned 7.7 million shares of General Growth at the end of December, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The results were released after the close of trading. General Growth's stock rose 12 cents to $17.92 on the New York Stock Exchange.