By  on July 29, 2008

Despite widespread troubles in the U.S. real estate market, mall developer Simon Property Group Inc. bolstered both earnings and revenues in the second quarter. Net income available to common shareholders jumped 27.8 percent to $76.6 million, or 34 cents a share, from $59.9 million, or 27 cents a year ago. Sales for the three months ended June 30 rose 7.8 percent to $922.9 million from $855.9 million. Funds from operations, a key yardstick for real estate investment trusts such as Simon, rose 14.7 percent to $427.9 million. Still, Simon is feeling the ripples of the troubled times for retailers. “Square footage lost to bankruptcy for the first six months of 2008 totaled 151,000 square feet as compared to 30,000 square feet during the first six months of 2007,” said David Simon, chief executive officer, on a conference call with Wall Street. Steve & Barry’s, which filed for Chapter 11 this month and has 276 stores across 39 states, is just one of the chains to suffer from a financial squeeze. Others, such as Boscov’s and Mervyns, appear to be fighting for survival. Most of the Steve & Barry’s stores in the Simon portfolio are relatively small and the company said it is talking to Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th, the A.J. Wright division of The TJX Cos. and others about filling those spaces. And Simon says those brands aren’t alone. Despite the tough times, the real estate firm singled out a number of names looking to grow their footprints, including Forever 21, Sephora, Apple, Coach, Express, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters and the Liz Claiborne Inc. brands that operate as stand-alone stores such as Lucky Jeans, Kate Spade and Juicy Couture. Simon’s earnings for the first half inched up 3.9 percent to $164.5 million, or 73 cents a share, on a 6.5 percent rise in revenues to $1.82 billion.

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