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ATLANTA-With the May 22 annual shareholders meeting two weeks away, Post Properties Inc. directors have the unenviable task of explaining to stockholders how the company lost $23.5 million or 63 cents per diluted share in the first quarter.

By comparison, Post showed a profit of $14.2 million or 38 cents per share in Q1 of 2002.

Directors will be telling shareholders they can blame former Post chairman John A. Williams and former vice chairman John Glover for contributing to the Q1 loss.

In an Internet conference call with analysts May 6, the locally based apartment development REIT says Q1 results include a combined $19.7 million severance charge of compensation and insurance premiums paid for Williams who left the company July 1, 2002 and Glover who also left last year.

Besides the severance charges, Post had to also write down $14.1 million on a Phoenix apartment property it has for sale. Excluding the charges of $19.7 and $14.1 million, net income was $6.5 million or 18 cents per diluted share versus $14.2 million or 38 cents per share the company reported in Q1 of 2002.

Funds from operations for Q1 totaled $2.9 million or seven cents per diluted share compared to $30.2 million or 72 cents per share in Q1 of 2002. Excluding the severance charges, FFO totaled $22.6 million or 54 cents per diluted share.

“Despite ongoing challenges in our key markets, Post continues on the right track,” says company president and CEO David P. Stockert. “Our operating performance for the first quarter was consistent with out prior guidance, after adjusting for non-cash charges.”

Stockert told analysts and will tell shareholders May 22 that Post has made “significant strides in cutting costs and in bringing Post’s development exposure to a level consistent with current market conditions.” He says the company continues to focus its “geographic footprint by selling older assets in our most concentrated markets and exiting many of our single-asset markets.”

Stockert says, “We believe that we are on course to meet our asset sales targets for the year and we are applying the cash from these sales to reduce debt and further strengthen the balance sheet.”

Total revenue from Post’s 67 mature communities decreased 4.6% in Q1 compared to Q1 of 2002. Operating expenses decreased 0.3%, resulting in a 6.9% decline in net operating income or $3.1 million (seven cents per diluted share).

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