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ATLANTA-Cousins Properties Inc., one of the Southeast’s most aggressive developers, finished the first quarter with a less than sterling balance sheet but assured stockholders the lower performance won’t hinder future company growth.

“The pace of activity in the first quarter picked up right where we left off at year-end 2004 with the office, industrial, retail and land divisions making progress on significant new developments,” says company president and CEO Tom Bell. “With eight projects currently under development, the Cousins team has maintained a fast pace after a record year of value creation in 2004.”

Bell adds, “We are entering a new phase of growth at Cousins that will be driven by continued lease up of our remaining office properties and new development in office, retail, industrial and land.” He assures stockholders, “With our lower capital base, this increased development should have a significant impact on total shareholder returns.”

Cousins posted first quarter net income of $5.5 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with $10.8 million, or 22 cents per share, in the comparable 2004 period. Funds from operations total $16.3 million, or 32 cents per share, versus $27 million, or 54 cents per share, a year earlier.

“Net income available and FFO decreased in the first quarter due to a decrease in revenue resulting from the sale of $1.3 billion of consolidated and joint venture operating properties in 2004,” Bell says. “These decreases were partially offset by a related reduction in interest expense and an increase in gains from undepreciated investment property.”

Among the company’s first quarter achievements was the purchase of nine prime developable acres in the Buckhead submarket where Cousins has been approved to build up to 1.4 million sf of office, 1.5 million sf of residential and 150,000 sf of retail. The company plans to break ground on the first phase of a project that will see a 31-story office tower containing about 550,000 sf office and 60,000 sf of retail.

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