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Simon tops quarterly expectations, raises full-year guidance

October 27, 2017

Simon Property Group Inc. on Friday reported third quarter results that met or exceeded analyst expectations, and it increased its quarterly dividend and its full-year guidance.

But investors didn't seem impressed with the performance. Shares in the Indianapolis-based shopping mall giant were down more than 3.5 percent Friday morning, to $158.04 each.

The stock decrease likely had more to do with quarterly results from retailer J.C. Penney than it had to do with Simon's performance.

J.C. Penney on Friday slashed its annual profit forecast as it accelerated the clearance of slow-moving inventory and warned of weaker sales. Its shares tumbled more than 20 percent to an all-time low in early trading Friday, pulling Sears, Dillard's, Kohl's and other retailers down with it.

The Standard & Poor's index that tracks department stores tumbled almost 4 percent.

J.C. Penney stores anchor several of Simon’s malls, prompting CEO David Simon to weigh in on the retailer’s troubles during a Friday morning conference call with investors.

“We have confidence in J.C. Penney,” Simon said. “Obviously, they’re still recovering from the activity that occurred when they had a different shareholder base. I think (CEO) Marvin Ellison has done a very good job. I think they definitely have a loyal consumer base.”

Even so, Simon said his company will look at more mixed-use opportunities in the future, “but we’re not running away from the [traditional] mall business.”

New Simon lease signings for apparel-related stores are down 20 percent this year while restaurant leases at its malls are up 20 percent, as the company continues to diversify its tenant base.

“The portfolio’s in excellent shape,” Simon said. “We’ve leased over 10 million square feet this year. That’s a lot of leasing.”

Occupancy at Simon’s U.S. malls and outlet centers was 95.3 percent as of Sept. 30, down from 96.3 percent from a year ago.

Simon attributed the dip to “extra bankruptcies” in the retail sector this year but said the company is expecting an uptick in occupancy in the fourth quarter.

Simon reported third-quarter funds from operations, or FFO, of $1 billion, or $2.89 per share, compared with $976 million, or $2.70 per share, in the same quarter of 2016.

That slightly topped the average FFO estimate of $2.88 per share by 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

FFO is a closely watched performance measure in the REIT industry that takes profit and adds back items such as depreciation and amortization.

“I am very pleased with our quarterly results, including our cash-flow growth and continued solid operating metrics,” CEO David Simon said in a written statement. “We also continue to strengthen our real estate platform through our redevelopments and selected new developments.”

Simon reported revenue of $1.4 billion in the period, up from $1.36 billion in the same quarter of 2016. Revenue matched Wall Street forecasts.

Simon reported quarterly profit of $513.8 million, or $1.23 per share, compared with $504.7 million, or $1.61 per share, in the prior-year period.

Base minimum rent per square foot in Simon malls was $52.42, up 3.3 percent compared with the year-ago quarter.

Simon now expects 2017 funds from operations to be in the range of $11.17 to $11.22, a 3-cent increase on the lower end.

The company also declared a quarterly dividend of $1.85 per share, a 12.1 percent year-over-year increase to be paid Nov. 30.

 

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