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CLEVELAND-Despite a challenging economy, Forest City Enterprises continues to look for development and acquisition opportunities even as it eyes its pipeline cautiously, executives said at the company’s fourth quarter conference call.

Regional mall sales last year were $468 per sf, but comparable sales declined 1.8% in 2007, indicating weakness. With all sectors slowing, and anticipating a weak financing environment for the rest of the year, the company has delayed projects that would have exceeded $1 billion (including a retail project in the Northeast), and each project in the pipeline is being examined.

“We know over the long term that real estate development is important,” said Charles A. Ratner, president and CEO. “[But] given the challenging economic environment we face, we’ll continue to be more selective on the projects and the pace at which we develop.”

Even so, the company ended 2007 with $2.2 billion of projects (all sectors) under construction and expects to begin work on an additional $1.5 billion in projects in 2008. Orchard Town Center in Westminster, CO, opens next week and The Shops at Wiregrass remains on track for a 2008 opening, with approximately 75% of space committed. White Oak Village in Richmond, VA, is on schedule for a third-quarter opening. Ground has been broken on Village at Gulfstream in Hallandale, FL, and Ridge Hill in Yonkers, NY. Forest City has begun preliminary site work on Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, NY, and Waterfront in Washington, D.C.

In addition, the company has boosted its liquidity to record levels to take advantage of strategic growth opportunities, including “land, individual properties or even entire portfolios,” Ratner said.

For the year, revenues were $1.3 billion, a 15.3% increase compared with last year’s $1.1 billion. Net earnings for the full year were $52.4 million, compared with $177.3 million in 2006.

Fourth-quarter consolidated revenues were $406 million compared with $348.3 million last year. Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $12.6 million, down from $70.6 million in the prior year.

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