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Simon Property raises forecast after results top expectations

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Simon Property Group Inc. reported an increase in second-quarter funds from operations and raised its FFO forecast for the year as it redevelops centers domestically and expands overseas.

FFO, which gauges a property company’s ability to generate cash, rose to $766.3 million, or $2.11 a share, from $688.8 million, or $1.89, a year earlier, the Indianapolis-based real estate investment trust announced Monday. The average of 21 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg was $2.07 a share.

The company is renovating its existing malls and building new outlet shopping centers to boost growth. Simon is the biggest U.S. owner of both regional malls and outlet centers, where retailers sell at a discount. It’s also investing internationally and last month agreed to buy a buy a stake in closely held McArthurGlen Group, Europe’s biggest outlet-center operator, for $578 million.

“They’re continuing to find attractive investments,” Craig Guttenplan, a REIT analyst at CreditSights Inc. in London, said before the results were released. “It just speaks to Simon’s ability to partner with the biggest and best operators globally.”

Simon revenue increased 4.1 percent from a year earlier, to $1.24 billion. Occupancies at Simon’s U.S. properties climbed to 95.1 percent from 94.2 percent. The base minimum rent in the second quarter was $41.41 a square foot, up from $39.99.

The company raised its estimate of FFO for the year to the range of $8.60 to $8.70 a share, up from an April forecast of $8.50 to $8.60 a share. The average of 22 analyst estimates is $8.69.

Second-quarter results were announced before U.S. markets opened. Simon stock rose 0.5 percent, to $164.54 per share, on Friday. The shares have gained 3.5 percent in past 12 months, compared with a 9.7-percent advance for the Bloomberg REIT Index.

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