Simon Property Group Inc raised its full-year forecast after posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Friday, thanks in part to higher occupancy and rent at its outlet centers and malls.
"It was a blowout quarter," said Richard Imperiale, president of Uniplan Investment Counsel Inc. "It's no one or two things that really drove it. It was just solid improvement across most of the numbers."
David Simon, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement the company had completed two significant transactions this year and was building outlets in Brazil and China. He said the company had a great start to 2012 with its strong results "and the raising of our dividend."
"We are pleased to be the first real estate company included in the S&P 100 Index," he said in the statement.
Simon said first-quarter funds from operations were $648.7 million, or $1.82 per share, compared with $570.6 million, or $1.61 per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 9.7 percent to $1.12 billion. The company raised its quarterly dividend to $1.00 per share from 95 cents per share.
Analysts on average had expected funds from operations of $1.68 a share, on revenue of $1.05 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
In the U.S. mall sector, a vast gap yawns between the good malls - in dense, high income or vacation destinations - and the not-so good, which struggle to lure shoppers and are later shut down. Despite a huge portfolio, Simon Property has been in the former category, and is the largest owner and developer of outlet centers which have done phenomenally well.
Funds from operations, or FFO, is a real estate investment trust performance measure that usually excludes gains or losses from property sales and removes the effect depreciation has on earnings.
Simon raised its forecast range for FFO the year to $7.50 - $7.60 per share, from $7.20 - $7.30 per share. Analysts are expecting $7.48 per share.