* Q4 shr FFO ex litigation charge $1.11 vs Street's $0.78
* Sees 2010 shr FFO, ex charges, $2.55-$2.75
* Stock up 1.7 pct in after-hours trade (Adds details, CEO comment, I/B/E/S estimates)
NEW YORK, Feb 9 Taubman Centers Inc (TCO.N), owner of upscale malls, on Tuesday reported positive quarterly funds from operations compared with a year-earlier loss when it took a charge related to the abandonment of a project.
Fourth-quarter funds from operations, or FFO, were $31.1 million, or 56 cents per share, compared with a loss of $30.3 million, or 57 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter, when it recorded impairment charges relating to abandoned development projects in Sarasota, Florida, and Oyster Bay, New York.
Excluding a previously disclosed charge related to a lawsuit involving the Westfarms mall in Connecticut, restructuring and other impairment charges, Taubman reported fourth-quarter FFO of 93 cents per share.
Excluding just the litigation charges, Taubman would have reported fourth-quarter FFO of $1.11 per share, while analysts, on average, had estimated 78 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
At the end of the year, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based Taubman Centers were 89.6 percent occupied, down from the 90.5 percent a year earlier. Average rent in the company's consolidated property was $42.56 per square foot, down from $43.96 per square foot at the end of 2008.
Tenant sales per square foot rose 3.8 percent during the quarter. For the year, tenant sales fell 6.7 percent to $498 per square foot.
"We are delighted to see a positive 3.8 percent tenant sales gain in the fourth quarter even against an easy comparison from the prior year," Robert Taubman, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. "This is the first positive tenant sales performance since the third quarter of 2008."
For 2010, Taubman said it sees FFO, excluding The Pier Shops, which it wrote off, of $2.55 to $2.75 per share. Analysts had expected $2.63 per share.
In September Taubman said that income from The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic, City, New Jersey, was not enough to cover the mortgage and returned the property to the lender.
Taubman shares closed at $32.05, up 0.7 percent, or 22 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange and were 56 cents higher at $32.61 in after-hours trade. (Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)