Fuller occupancy, better sales boost CBL's results

Fuller occupancy, better sales boost CBL's results

August 4th, 2010 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Mall developer CBL & Associates Properties Inc. on Tuesday hiked earnings guidance for the year after posting higher occupancy numbers in the second quarter and seeing better store sales.

"Our strategic focus on creating revenue growth in our portfolio was evident in the quarter," said Stephen D. Lebovitz, chief executive officer of the Chattanooga-based company.

Hamilton Place Mall is owned by CBL & Associates Properties Inc.

Hamilton Place Mall is owned by CBL &...

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

Funds from operations for the quarter was $68.3 million, or 49 cents per diluted share, excluding a noncash impairment of real estate of 13 cents, the company reported after the market's close. That's off from 72 cents per share a year ago.

Still, FFO for the latest quarter beat the consensus analyst estimate of 44 cents per share.

Net loss for the second quarter was $7.2 million, or 5 cents per share, according to CBL. The real estate investment trust cited the noncash impairment.

But, CBL boosted its 2010 FFO guidance to a range of $1.87-$1.95 per share, up 5 cents.

CBL's stock closed at $14.38 Tuesday, down 28 cents.

Katie Reinsmidt, CBL's director of corporate communications and investor relations, said the company is seeing consumers back in the stores.

Same-store sales per square foot for many mall tenants increased 2.1 percent, according to CBL.

"Occupancy was great," Reinsmidt added. "You can see it at Hamilton Place."

Lebovitz said CBL officials are encouraged by expansion plans announced by many retailers.

"While the current retail real estate environment remains challenging, we are managing through what we see as a slow recovery with more efficient operations, an aggressive leasing strategy and continued success in securing capital at favorable terms," he said.

As retailers head into the critical back-to-school season, the industry's second-biggest selling period, they're using an array of new tools and deals to spur consumers to buy.

The stakes are high because back-to-school sales typically serve as a barometer of consumers' propensity to spend during the critical holiday season.

"This is a great indicator for the holiday season," said Edward Yruma, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

A National Retail Federation survey predicted the average American family will spend $606 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics for school, compared to $548 last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.