U.S. Markets closed

General Growth 1Q funds from operations up 14 pct.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Mall operator General Growth Properties Inc. said Monday that a key measure of profitability improved in its first quarter, bolstered by higher rental income.

The real estate investment trust said funds from operations, or FFO, rose nearly 14 percent to $252 million, or 25 cents per share, for the three months ended March 31. That compares with FFO of $222 million, or 22 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected 24 cents per share.

FFO is considered a key financial measure for REITs. It adds back items like amortization and depreciation to net income.

General Growth also trimmed its loss from a year earlier.

The company reported a loss after paying preferred dividends of $13.7 million, or a penny per share, compared with a loss of $197.6 million, or 21 cents per share, in the prior-year period.

The latest results included the impact of depreciation expense, a non-cash adjustment for outstanding stock warrants and other special items.

Revenue increased nearly 7 percent to $637.8 million. Analysts expected $598.8 million.

General Growth expects FFO of $1.11 to $1.15 per share for all of this year and second-quarter FFO between 24 and 26 cents per share.

Analysts expect full-year FFO of $1.10 per share and 25 cents per share in the second quarter.

General Growth rose 26 cents to close at $22.03.