Mall owner's shares buoyed

Mall owner's shares buoyed

November 3rd, 2010 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

CBL & Associates Properties Inc. on Tuesday reported progress in its financial performance as the company focused on revenue growth and cost controls in the third quarter.

Shares for the Chattanooga-based shopping center company neared a 52-week high, rising Tuesday to $16.57 before closing at $16.48, up 39 cents. Its high a year ago was $16.59 a share.

After the market's close, the real estate investment trust that owns Hamilton Place posted quarterly earnings that beat analyst estimates.

Funds from operations allocable for common shareholders was $65 million, or 47 cents a share, topping the estimate of 44 cents in the quarter. FFO in the same quarter a year ago was 50 cents a share.

Stephen D. Lebovitz, CBL's chief executive, said occupancy rose, leasing spreads improved and it recorded healthy growth in same-center net operating income.

"The improving outlook and solid execution of our strategies, combined with steps we have taken to strengthen our capital structure, have positioned us to take advantage of growth opportunities," he said.

Analyst Nathan Isbee of Stifel Nicolaus said in an earlier research note that CBL's portfolio fundamentals have shown signs of stability.

"We expect leasing spread to slowly improve over the next few quarters as retailer interest in signing long-term leases at CBL properties grows," he said.

CBL reported that occupancy grew to 91 percent in the quarter. Also, same-store sales per square foot for mall tenants of 10,000 square feet or less for the nine months ended Sept. 30 increased 2.7 percent.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.