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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Commercial property sales rebound in 3Q

NEW YORK: Two of the world's largest commercial real estate services companies reported sharply improved earnings on Tuesday, Oct 26, fueled chiefly by a pickup in building sales and leasing, particularly in the United States.

After more than a year of nearly no activity, US property sales have begun to pick up as buyers and sellers agreed on prices. That helped Jones Lang LaSalle Inc and CB Richard Ellis Group Inc record strong earnings growth in the third quarter.

Boston Properties, which has been on a buying spree over the past couple of months, reported better-than-expected results.

Luxury mall owner Taubman Centers Inc reported earnings that were hurt by an unexpected drop in lease cancellation fees. But the company raised its full-year forecast after sales at its malls rose 13% per square foot.

The slow rebirth of the US commercial mortgage backed securities market (CMBS) and loosening of lending by banks have greatly improved US commercial real estate sales this year. Real Estate research firm Real Capital Analytics expects sales to top US$100 billion (RM310 billion) in 2010, nearly double the US$54.4 billion in 2009.

US companies also have begun to lease more space as they become more confident about the economy.

Sales and leasing transactions are the bread and butter of real estate services companies, providing higher margins than property management or corporate services.

"We've seen sales and leasing improve all year," JMP analyst Will Marks said. "Third-quarter results really picked up from 2009 levels, but they're still nowhere near the levels at the peak."

CB Richard Ellis, based in Los Angeles, posted third-quarter earnings, excluding charges, of US$62.4 million, or 20 US cents per diluted share up from US$21.6 million, or eight US cents a share in the year-earlier quarter.

Analysts on average expected 17 US cents per share, according Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 24% to US$1.3 billion. That was driven in part by a 26% revenue increase from the Americas region, with property sales up 69% and leasing revenue up 36%.

Jones Lang LaSalle posted third-quarter adjusted earnings of US$38 million, or 86 US cents per share, compared with US$27 million or 61 US cents per share in the year-earlier quarter.

Analysts on average expected 95 US cents per share.

Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle said its revenue rose 20% to US$708 million. In the Americas, revenue rose 29%, with leasing revenue up 38%, and sales and hotels up 127%.

Taubman reported third-quarter adjusted funds from operations of US$33 million or 59 US cents per square foot compared with a loss of US$67 million, or US$1.26 per share in the year ago period.

Analysts had expected third-quarter FFO of 67 US cents per share. FFO is a real estate investment trust performance metric, which removes the profit-reducing effect of depreciation from earnings.

The company, based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan raised it 2010 FFO forecast to a range to US$2.77 per share to US$2.82 per share from US$2.65 per share to US$2.75 per share based on improving rents and higher lease cancellation and recoveries.

Boston Properties reported FFO of US$150.8 million, or US$1.07 per share diluted compared with US$158.5 million, or US$1.13 per share.

Analysts expected FFO of US$1.03 per share.

Boston Properties said it expects to report fourth quarter FFO of US$1.09 per share to US$1.12 per share.

The companies reported after the close of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Jones Lang LaSalle shares closed down 0.7% at US$85.37. CB Richard Ellis shares closed up 0.2% at US$18.90 and were at US$19.06 after hours. Taubman shares closed down 1.1% at US$48.30, and were at US$48.76 in after-hours trade. Boston Properties shares closed down 1% at US$89.87.

By Reuters

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