CHATTANOOGA, TN- CBL & Associates Properties Inc. posted such strong financial growth during the third quarter that it has increased its 2004 FFO guidance by 15 cents per share to $5.14 to $5.19 per share.

The announcement was made during the REIT’s third quarter earnings announcement.

Funds from operations increased 14.3% to $75.2 million for the third quarter of 2004 from $65.8 million for the third quarter of 2003. FFO per share on a diluted, fully converted basis increased 12.1% to $1.30 for the third quarter of 2004 from $1.16 for the same period last year.

Moreover, total revenues increased 19.3% in the third quarter 2004 to $194.2 million from $162.9 million for the same period last year.

“This past quarter has been a strong one for CBL,” CBL’s chairman & CEO Charles B. Lebovitz said during the REIT’s earnings conference call. “Business results have been successful across the board.”

“It’s great – it’s awesome,” says Rich Moore, an analyst with Cleveland-based McDonald Investments, referring to the REIT’s third quarter earnings announcement. “CBL is a hard driver that pushes to get the maximum out of its portfolio.”

Moreover, the regional mall REIT also reported an increase of 4.1% for same center net operating income for the third quarter compared with a 1.1% increase for the same period last year. Same-store sales for mall tenants of 10,000 square feet or less for stabilized malls increased 4% compared with 0.4% for the same period last year.

“Same store sales and NOI are very strong,” Moore notes.

As of the end of September, CBL’s portfolio was 92.4% occupied, an increase over the 91.4% occupancy recorded for the same period last year. Lebovitz expects occupancy to be in the range of 94% to 95% by the end of this year. Leases signed during the third quarter were signed at 20.1% higher average base rent per square than average base rent for space that been vacant, according to Lebovitz.

Lebovitz attributes the strong financial growth to theREIT’s acquisition and development programs, and analysts have taken note. “Their acquisitions are very strong,” Moore says. “And, their development pipeline is going to be even strong with General Growth out of the picture.”

During the first nine months of this year, CBL took possession of eight properties worth $700.4 million with an average cap rate of 7.3%. The acquisitions include six malls totaling 5.3 million sf. “This has been an extremely busy year for our acquisitions team as they have reviewed a number of acquisition opportunities,” Lebovitz says.

During the third quarter, the REIT acquired Monroeville Mall, a 1.1 million-sf center in the eastern Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville, PA, from Turnberry Associates for $231.6 million. The acquisition also included a 229,588-sf associated center known as the Annex and a 75,832-sf open-air expansion wing known as the Village.

“We continue to review a significant number of acquisition opportunities that fit within our investment criteria and anticipate making more announcements before year end,” Lebovitz said.

The REIT’s development strategy has produced new projects and expansions of 2.1 million square feet currently under construction. Since 2001, the REIT has renovated 15 malls. “We believe the periodic updating and renovating of our properties is an essential element in enhancing our malls position in the community and in the consumers shopping experience,” Lebovitz said. Among those being renovated, Fayette Mall in Lexington, KY, will benefit from the addition of about 148,000 sf including Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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