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CHICAGO-General Growth Properties Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the middle of April, released its first quarter earnings numbers last night. The company was hit heavily by rising vacancies in the retail sector.

Funds from operation totaled a loss of $0.52 per share. Core FFO saw a loss of $0.38 per share, while earnings per share equaled a $1.27 loss. This compares to 2008′s first quarter when FFO were $0.73 per share and earnings per share were $0.01 per share. “The declines in Core FFO and FFO are primarily attributable to provisions for impairment, termination income and restructuring costs related to the development of alternatives to address our current liquidity and financing situations,” according to company executives in the earnings report.

Net operating income for Q1 was $608.9 million, a 4.1% decline from the previous year’s $634.5 million NOI. Part of the decrease in NOI is due to a $2.7 million decline in minimum rents.

Within the portfolio, tenant sales dropped by 6.1% in Q1, while comparable tenant sales fell 6.7% compared to the previous year. Sales per square foot fell from $438 per square foot at the end of 2008, and $460 per square foot for the comparable 2008 quarter, to $427 per square foot.

Vacancy has grown within GGP’s portfolio. The company now has a total occupancy of 90.9%, when it totaled 92.5% at the end of 2008 and 92.7% at the conclusion of 2008′s Q1.

The second quarter earnings showed a slightly brighter picture for the company, Core FFO for Q2 was $0.39 per share, while FFO was $0.18 per share. Still earnings per share saw a $0.51 per share loss. These numbers are in stark contrast to the previous year’s. for Q2 2008, Core FFO was$0.70 per share, FFO was $0.69 per share and earnings per share were $0.12.

GGP currently owns or manages more than 200 shopping malls in 44 states. In April the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has yet to come out of the court restructuring process. Initially, GGP included 158 regional shopping malls in the filing. But then later in April, GGP added another 8 properties to the filing, leaving about 50 properties out of the bankruptcy restructuring. In a conference call at the time, GGP executives said they did not plan to do a massive sell-off of properties, but the sale of one or two iconic structures, such as Water Tower Place here in Chicago, might be necessary.

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