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ATLANTA-In what company president and CEO Tom Bell calls “a great quarter,” Cousins Properties Inc. increased its three-month income by 280% over the comparable 2003 period. Cousins posted net income of $224.7 million or $4.41 per share versus $59.2 million or $1.19 per share a year ago.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, the locally based REIT recorded net income of $281.3 million or $5.56 per share compared with $230.3 million or $4.68 per share in third quarter 2003. The sale of 11 office buildings totaling 3.2 million sf valued at $838.2 million was the big factor in the company’s income gain for the quarter. Cousins’ share of the sales prices and square footage of the sold properties was $613.6 million and 2.2 million sf.

Funds from operations for the quarter were $29.3 million or 58 cents per share versus $25.5 million or 51 cents per share last year. For the nine-month period, FFO was $81.6 million or $1.61 per share compared with $99 million or $2.01 per share in third quarter 2003.

Bell attributes the FFO decrease to lease termination fees and a loss of net revenue from sold and held-for-sale properties and nine months of preferred dividends in 2004, compared with only two months of preferred dividends in 2003.

“Our office disposition strategy continues to pay off with outstanding prices, most notably the top per-sf price ever paid in Atlanta on our sale of the Pinnacle [office building],” Bell says. “We’re very pleased that we’ve been able to retain the management and leasing of nearly all of the projects.”

Cousins’ chief says the company’s land division is “still in peak form, maintaining its high level of new project starts and lot sales through the third quarter, and our new industrial division is moving closer to starting its first development south of Atlanta in Henry County.” The company and its partners, Wildwood Associates, still have 100 acres of land available for sale or development in Wildwood Office Park.

On the leasing front, Bell says the company’s portfolio of operational office and medical office buildings at Sept. 30 was 86% leased and its retail centers were 92% leased for an overall leased level of 87%.

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