Retail REIT's Earnings Improve

Simon Property Group has reported net income of $55.1 million for the first quarter, an 84% rise from net income of $30 million for the corresponding period of 2002.

The retail real estate investment trust, the largest REIT by market capitalization in the regional mall sector, saw its earnings per share rise 71% to $0.29 for the first quarter, compared to $0.17 for the first quarter of 2002.

Simon's Funds From Operations, a widely-used measure of earnings in the REIT industry, increased 22% to $177.4 million for the first quarter, from $145.3 million for 2002's first quarter, the REIT reports.

David Simon, CEO, SPG, said, "Our primary goal for 2003 is the improvement of our operating margins through increases in rental rates on new lease executions, increases in portfolio occupancy, and a continued focus on utilizing our economies of scale to drive down operating costs."

Simon is in the midst of a hostile takeover bid for Taubman Properties, a rival REIT that also focuses on the retail sector.

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