* Q4 FFO $0.98 beats Street view of $0.89
* Increase in rental income, lower operating expenses
* Backs 2010 FFO $3.80-$3.88
Feb 17 (Reuters) - Real estate investment trust Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRT.N) reported quarterly funds from operations that beat Wall Street estimates comfortably, helped largely by an increase in rental income and lower operating expenses.
For the fourth quarter, the retail-focused REIT posted FFO of $60.1 million, or 98 cents a share, compared with FFO of $58.6 million, or 99 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average were expecting Federal Realty to report FFO of 89 cents a share.
Quarterly rental income rose almost 3 percent to $133.8 million, while operating expenses declined more than 5 percent to $75.3 million.
The company's overall portfolio was 94.5 percent leased as of Dec. 31, up marginally from 94.2 percent in the prior sequential quarter.
Same-center portfolio was 94.6 percent leased, compared with 94.4 percent in the third quarter.
FFO is a key performance measure for the REITs, because it excludes the profit-reducing effect of depreciation.
Shares of the Rockville, Maryland-based company closed at $67.13 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Biswarup Gooptu in Bangalore; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal)