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SPG Adds Brands, Moves up Opening

Zacks Equity Research

Indianapolis, Indiana-based real estate investment trust (:REIT), Simon Property Group Inc. (SPG), recently announced it had added retailers in its under-construction upscale outlet joint venture St. Louis Premium Outlets  in Chesterfield, Missouri. The company also stated that the grand opening date of the outlet mall has been moved up to August 22, 2013, to meet the needs of both shoppers and retailers. The opening was originally scheduled for September 2013.

The new retailers who intend to join the outlet center include merchants such as Nike Inc. (NKE) and its subsidiaries, The Gymboree Corporation, Adidas, Claire's Accessories and Wilsons Leather of G-III Apparel Group, Ltd. (GIII). As a matter of fact, the property already anchors numerous well-known brands for an all-genre shopping experience for residents and visitors. Some of the brands include Saks Incorporated (SKS), ANN INC (ANN), Skechers USA Inc. (SKX) and PVH Corp. (PVH).

St. Louis Premium Outlets is a part of a mixed-use development, Chesterfield Blue Valley. The 131-acre complex will boast a class of office space, hotel, restaurant and entertainment venues upon completion. Positioned west of I-64/US Highway 40 and east of Daniel Boone Bridge, Chesterfield Blue Valley will include 85 stores. Upon completion of the final phase, the St. Louis Premium Outlets will span approximately 415,000 square feet.

Simon Property has been constructing St. Louis Premium Outlets in a joint venture with Woodmont Outlets and EWB Development, LLC. Simon Property holds a 60% interest in the project. Woodmont Outlets – an associate of The Woodmont Company – specializes in providing commercial real estate-related services. These includes development, asset management, tenant representation, brokerage and construction supervision.

However, Simon Property needs to be wary of its competitor in the Chesterfield area, Taubman Centers, Inc. (TCO), who recently stated the opening of its mall - Taubman Prestige Outlets - on August 2, 2013. The $150 million property is projected to have over a hundred stores, including primary products of The Gap Inc. (GPS) and J.Crew Group, Inc.

Simon property reported third-quarter 2012 FFO (funds from operations) per share of $1.99, exceeding the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.92 and year-ago FFO of $1.71. The company currently owns or has ownership interests in 333 properties spanning 242 million square feet of gross leasable space in North America, Europe, and Asia.

We have a long-term Outperform recommendation on Simon property. Also, it carries a short-term Zacks #2 Rank (Buy).

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

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