April 29 (Reuters) - General Growth Properties Inc said on Monday that a key measure of earnings rose 13.6 percent in the first quarter, beating Wall Street’s forecast and helped by higher occupancy and sales at its malls.
The company said first-quarter funds from operations (FFO) rose to $252 million, or 25 cents per share, compared with $222 million or 22 cents per share in the year-earlier quarter.
Analysts on average had expected the company to post first-quarter FFO of 24 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
FFO is a real estate investment trust performance measure that usually excludes gains or losses from property sales and removes the effect of depreciation on earnings.
Since emerging from bankruptcy at the end of 2010, General Growth has culled its portfolio of properties down to its most productive malls. It ended the fourth quarter with 124 U.S. malls, down from more than 200 properties in 2010.
Sales at U.S. stores its tenants have operated for at least a year rose 5.3 percent to an annual $558 per square foot on a trailing 12-month basis. Net operating income rose 5.3 percent for its U.S. regional malls.
General Growth’s U.S. mall portfolio was 95.8 percent leased at the end of the quarter, up 210 percentage points from a year earlier. The average base rent for new leases in 2012 rose 11.1 percent to $64.44 per square foot compared with expiring leases.
For full-year 2013, General Growth raised its FFO outlook for the year to a range of $1.11 to $1.15 per share, from its earlier forecast of $1.08 to $1.12 per share. Analysts had forecast $1.10 per share.
The company sees second-quarter FFO in the range of 24 to 26 cents per share, compared with Wall Street’s view of 25 cents per share.
The company reported first-quarter results after the close of trading on Monday. Its shares closed 1.2 percent higher at $22.03 during the regular session. After the results were issued, the shares dipped to $21.94 in after-hours trading.
The company is scheduled to hold a conference call with analysts on Tuesday morning.