Chattanooga shopping center developer CBL's profits up for year

Chattanooga shopping center developer CBL's profits up for year

February 9th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Hamilton Place mall in Chattanooga is owned by CBL. Staff File Photo

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CBL OUTLOOK

For 2012, CBL on Wednesday said it expects its funds from operations to total between $1.95 to $2.03 per share.

Stephen Lebovitz of CBL

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Chattanooga shopping center developer CBL & Associates Properties Inc. posted higher profits last year and said Wednesday it's poised for growth in a better operating, leasing and investment environment.

"Operating from a position of strength, we are capitalizing on this position in 2012 with our mall renovation and redevelopment program, additional outlet center projects...and other opportunities," said CBL chief executive Stephen Lebovitz, in a statement.

CBL reported that funds from operations allocable to common shareholders for 2011 was $329.3 million, or $2.22 per share, compared with $287.5 million, or $2.08 per share in 2010.

In the fourth quarter, FFO allocable to common shareholders was $89 million, or 60 cents per diluted share, versus $86.3 million, or 62 cents per share, for the same quarter in 2010, the company reported in a news release after the stock market's close.

That beat the average analysts' estimate of 55 cents per share in the quarter.

The company's stock price rose Wednesday before the announcement by 2 cents per share to $18.47 per share in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Katie Reinsmidt, CBL's vice president of corporate communications and investor relations, said company officials were pleased that the quarter hit "on all cylinders."

Looking ahead, she said, the recent drop in joblessness will help.

"The drop in unemployment will contribute to better consumer confidence," Reinsmidt said. "People are out there shopping. That's a good cycle of growth."

CBL owns or operates more than 160 retail properties, including the Hamilton Place and Northgate malls in Chattanooga.

CBL reported that average gross rent on leases signed during the fourth quarter for tenants 10,000 square feet or less increased 7.6 percent over a year ago.

Also, same-store sales per square foot for mall tenants 10,000 square feet or less for stabilized malls for 2011 increased 3.3 percent to $336 per square foot, according to CBL.

In addition, CBL and TIAA-CREF closed a $1.09 billion real estate joint venture in the quarter to invest in market-dominant shopping malls.

CBL reduced debt by about $486 million through TIAA-CREF's assumption of some $267 million of property-specific debt and cash proceeds of around $219 million, the shopping center company said.