Simon Property's 3rd-qtr helped by increased rents

INDIANAPOLIS -- Shopping mall operator Simon Property Group said Thursday that a key measure of profitability rose in its third quarter as rents increased and occupancy improved.

The company increased its full-year forecast again and boosted its dividend for the fifth straight quarter.

Simon Property Group Inc.'s funds from operations, or FFO, rose to $720.1 million, or $1.99 per share, from $606.2 million, or $1.71 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected FFO of $1.92 per share, according to FactSet.

FFO adds items like amortization and depreciation back to net income and is considered a key to understanding the ongoing business of a real estate investment trust like Simon.

Net income for the period ended Sept. 30 fell to $254.9 million, or 84 cents per share, compared with $274 million, or 93 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue climbed 14 percent to $1.23 billion from $1.07 billion.

Wall Street was expecting net income of 79 cents per share on revenue of $1.2 billion.

Minimum rent per square foot increased 3.8 percent to $40.33 from $38.84, while occupancy climbed to 94.6 percent from 93.8 percent.

Simon Property Group currently owns or has a stake in 333 retail properties in North America and Asia. Some of its properties include The Galleria at White Plains in New York and Fashion Valley in San Diego.

The company now expects 2012 FFO of $7.80 to $7.85 per share, excluding activity related to investments in marketable securities. Its prior outlook called for FFO in a range of $7.60 to $7.70 per share.

Wall Street forecasts full-year FFO of $7.75 per share.

Earnings are now forecast between $4.61 per share and $4.66 per share, up from $4.34 to $4.44 per share and above analyst expectations for $4.19 per share.

The Indianapolis company boosted its quarterly dividend by 22.2 percent from the prior-year period to $1.10 per share. The dividend will be paid on Nov. 30 to shareholders of record on Nov. 16.

Simon Property Group shares closed Wednesday trading at $151.17, up 17 percent since the start of the year.