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CHATTANOOGA, TN-After announcing 1.3 million sf of new joint-venture developments in the US and expansion to Brazil in recent months, CBL & Associates Properties Inc. shows no signs of stopping. During a third-quarter conference call, Stephen Lebovitz, president and secretary, said there would be “more great announcements over the next few weeks and months.”

The locally based company currently has 14 US projects aggregating 2.9 million sf under construction. They include Pearland Town Center near Houston, Settlers Ridge in Pittsburgh, and CBL Center II here along with two lifestyle centers and nine mall expansions and redevelopments. The ground-up developments are all in joint ventures.

This month CBL also announced the acquisition of a 60% partnership with Tenco Realty for a retail development in Macae, Brazil. Under its agreement with Tenco, CBL also has the option to buy a minimum 51% stake in any future Tenco developments in that country.

Asked why now, Lebovitz said, “we’ve been looking at international expansion for a couple of years,” noting it had entered China a year ago. “International stuff takes quite awhile to develop,” he added. “We’ll look at other acquisitions, but I can’t project a certain amount. We’re encouraged by Brazil, but we’re going to be cautious.”

Net income for the third quarter was $17.1 million, up from $14.3 million for the same quarter of 2006. Funds from operations reached $49.7 million, down from $50.9 million for the parallel year-ago quarter. The drop is attributed to a non-cash income tax provision and adjustments to leases at some acquired assets.

Total revenues for the quarter rose 2.5% to $251.2 million, up from $245 million in the prior-year quarter. For the first nine months of this year, total revenues were up 3.1% to total $746.9 million, up from $724.2 million for the same quarter of 2006.

Same-store sales for tenants at stabilized centers this year were up 1.2% on top of a 4.5% increase for the prior-year quarter. For the rolling 12 months ended this Sept. 30, the tenants’ average was $345 sales per sf.

“Retailers haven’t cut expansion plans for 2008,” Lebovitz said in response to analysts’ queries about retailers’ response to the current economy. Stores in the family apparel category and jewelry, he said, continue to expand and “shoes have been a little weak in the last month or so.” He attributed that primarily to cyclical fashion, such as the introduction of lower priced Crocs and sandal styles, which “we don’t see as a permanent thing,” he said.

In early trading on Nov. 7, a very down day for the NYSE, CBL common stock fell from an open of $30.54 a share to a new 52-week low of $27.20 a share before picking up about $2 a share by mid-day. This compares with a 52-week high of $50.36 a share, which occurred on Feb. 7, 2007.

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