Simon raises earnings guidance after strong first quarter

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Simon Property Group Inc. increased its dividend and raised its full-year guidance after starting the year with a strong first quarter.

The Indianapolis-based mall owner said Friday morning that its quarterly profit rose 6 percent, to $362.2 million, or $1.16 per share, compared with $341.6 million, or $1.10 per share, in the same period of 2014.

Funds from operations, a key measurement of a real estate investment trust’s ability to generate cash, fell 4.2 percent, to $830.7 million, or $2.28 per share. The results for last year’s first quarter, however, included FFO of 24 cents per share from the Washington Prime Group Inc. properties that were spun off from Simon in May 2014.

FFO topped analyst expectations of $2.23 per share.

Revenue grew 5.1 percent, to $1.2 billion, meeting expectations.

“We are off to a strong start in 2015 with the acquisition of two significant properties and the reporting of strong financial and operational results,” CEO David Simon said in prepared remarks. “Given our accomplishments this quarter and our current view for the remainder of 2015, today we raised our quarterly dividend and are increasing full-year 2015 guidance.”

Simon increased its full-year earnings guidance by 5 cents, to a range of $5.10 to $5.20 per share, and raised its quarterly dividend to $1.50 per share, a 15.4-percent year-over-year increase.  

Funds from operations for the year are expected to fall within a range of $9.65 to $9.75 a share, up 5 cents from the previous range.

Occupancy in Simon malls climbed to 95.8 percent in March, up from 95.5 percent in the year-ago period. Total sales per square foot increased from $576 to $621. Average rents also grew, to $47.59 per square foot, up from $42.34 in the first quarter of 2014.

Simon shares opened Friday trading at $189.06, down from a high this year of $205.16 reached Jan. 26.

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