Westfield 1st Half Net Profit Rises Amid Focus On Flagship Properties

By Mike CherneyFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Westfield Corp. (WFD.AU), one of the biggest global operators of shopping malls, said Wednesday that first-half net profit rose 20%, as the company continued to focus on premium shopping centers.

The company, which runs malls in the U.S. and U.K., said net profit in the six months through June was US$589 million. Revenue rose 18% to US$988 million. Funds from operations per share, a key measure of operating cash flow, rose 4.5% on a constant currency basis to 16.5 U.S. cents.

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Westfield said its first-half distribution would be 12.75 U.S. cents, up 1.6%.

"In a challenging retail environment, the performance for the first half was good and we remain confident on executing our strategy to transform our assets into the pre-eminent global shopping center portfolio," co-CEOs Peter and Steven Lowy said in a statement.

Annual specialty sales rose 2.2%. Westfield said it now has US$32.2 billion in assets under management, of which 83% are considered flagship properties.

The company reconfirmed its funds from operations forecast for the full year, expecting 33.8 to 34 U.S. cents per share, representing pro forma growth of 3% to 3.5%. It expects total 2017 distributions of 25.5 cents per share.

Amid a shift away from brick-and-mortar retail as e-commerce draws more shoppers, Westfield has focused on flagship properties that tend to perform better than smaller, regional malls. The company has sold off some of these regional centers in recent years while opening new properties like at the World Trade Center in New York.

The company is still looking to open new malls in Milan, London and Los Angeles. Westfield spun off its Australian and New Zealand malls into a separate company called Scentre Group (SCG.AU) in a deal that was completed in mid-2014.

-Write to Mike Cherney at mike.cherney@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 15, 2017 19:26 ET (23:26 GMT)