CBL earnings jump in third quarter

CBL earnings jump in third quarter

November 4th, 2009 by Mike Pare in Business

CBL DEVELOPMENTS

Two recent new developments in Mississippi and Pennsylvania opened in October to leased and committed levels in the mid-90 percent range, according to CBL.

CBL & Associates Properties Inc. reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates amid encouraging sales, traffic and occupancy trends.

The Chattanooga-based shopping center company reported funds from operations of $68.4 million, or 50 cents per share, in the latest quarter. That compares to $55.3 million, or 78 per share, a year ago.

Analysts had expected CBL to earn 47 cents per share in the third quarter.

Charles B. Lebovitz, CBL's chairman and chief executive officer, said rental rates remain a challenge, but the company made notable progress in strengthening occupancy levels.

"These advances have carried over to backfilling junior anchor vacancies that resulted from the 2008 retail bankruptcies...," he said.

Mr. Lebovitz said CBL bolstered its balance sheet, completing three-year extensions of both its $525 million secured credit line and its $560 million new secured credit line.

CBL reported after the market's close it has agreed to sell its interest in a Brazil shopping center to an unnamed buyer for $24.2 million. CBL recorded a noncash impairment charge of $1.1 million in the quarter as a result.

Katie Reinsmidt, vice president of corporate communications and investor relations, said CBL is winding down its investment in Brazil.

"That's our only property," she said.

CBL maintained its outlook for 2009 FFO of $2.28 to $2.39 per share. Shares closed Tuesday at $8.22, up 26 cents, or 3.27 percent.

Phil Rist of BIGresearch said that the economic climate has shown some improvement from last year. But retailers are not out of the woods yet, he said.