Cousins Vends Murfreesboro Retail Center

Zacks

Cousins Properties Incorporated (CUZ) recently sold a Tenn.-based retail property – The Avenue Murfreesboro – for $163 million. The strategic move was in line with the company’s ongoing portfolio repositioning activity to focus on higher growth markets.

The Avenue Murfreesboro is an open-air regional lifestyle shopping center, spanning 752,000 square feet, in suburban Nashville. The property has over 100 stores of major U.S. retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Inc. (BKS), Best Buy Company, Inc. (BBY), Chico's, ULTA and Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc. (DKS).

Previously, Cousins Properties owned the divested property through a 50/50 joint venture with Faison Enterprises. The divestiture helped Cousins Properties to reap net proceeds of about $36 million. The company plans to use the amount to partially finance its impending acquisition of the Texas office portfolio worth $1.1 billion, which is slated to close in mid-September this year.

Notably, Cousins Properties is focused on building its business on a simpler platform and specifically targets trophy assets and opportunistic investments, which ensure a steady revenue stream. In pursuit of this, last month, the company inked a definitive deal to buy the above-mentioned Texas office portfolio comprising 2 assets – Greenway Plaza (Houston) and 777 Main Street (Fort Worth) – for $1.1 billion. The acquisitions will strengthen Cousins Properties’ Texas portfolio with high-quality assets.

Last month, Cousins Properties reported second-quarter 2013 results with funds from operations (:FFO) per share of 12 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. However, it came below the year-ago figure of 13 cents due to lower net income, which resulted from preferred stock redemption charges in the said quarter.

Cousins Properties currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Note: FFO, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, are obtained after adding depreciation, amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

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