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CLEVELAND-A downturn in consumer spending would not drastically impact the retail-REIT industry because retailers are still expanding at a rapid rate, and there are still many development opportunities throughout the country, said Developers Diversified Realty executives during their second-quarter conference call.

“Far more than the health of the consumer are the available sales in the market and what [retailers] think they can get in terms of those sales,” says Scott Wolstein, DDR’s chairman and chief executive officer. “What people don’t understand is that there are a lot of sales to be had.”

Wolstein points to retailers like Wal-Mart and Target that have major annual expansion plans as evidence. He also says that major consolidations and store closings in the department- and grocery-store sectors have cleared the way for different types of retailers to open new doors.

The trend of private-equity firms buying public retail companies, as is happening with Petco, Lord & Taylor and others, “may obscure operational transparency” at those companies, Wolstein says. But those equity firms cal also “make rapid and efficient improvements to business strategy,” he says.

Changes in the retail industry do not seem to impact DDR’s bottom line. FFO per diluted share during the quarter, which ended on June 30, soared 17.9%, to 99 cents. Year-over-year occupancy rates rose 40 basis points, to 96%. Net income was up to $64.9 million, from $54.2 million during last year’s second quarter.

This month the company sold seven properties across the country to a joint venture it is in with Australia-based Macquarie Bank, for $122.7 million. The company will continue to lease and manage those centers.

DDR is currently developing nine centers across the country, that will open throughout this year and next year, at a cost of $517 million. On the redevelopment front, nine centers are being revamped at a cost of $57.2 million.

The company owns about 500 centers in the US and Puerto Rico. The firm has also taken over the management and leasing duties at its 15 centers in Puerto Rico, replacing a third-party management outfit.

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