Westfield Results Demonstrate Decline In U.S. Mall Market

Westfield, the world's largest mall operator, announced results earlier today, which demonstrated substantially accelerating real estate writedowns, primarily in the US. For the six month period ended June 30, Westfield announced $2.5 billion in property revaluations, after posting $2.6 billion in comparable charges for the entire 2008 year period: the company is finally marking its asset book to something vaguely resembling reality. 

As a result of deteriorating operations, the company also announced it would reduce its dividend payout from 100% of earnings to 75%, in anticipation of a liquidity crunch resulting from over $19 billion in debt maturing between 2010 and 2014.

Other notable data: U.S. retail sales on a per square foot basis declined by 6.2% from $437 to $410 just over the past six months, and by 10.8% from June 2008: the worst deterioration of any of the company's regional properties.

Furthermore, cap rates have increased by over 0.3% across Westfield's four regions over the last 6 months, with the U.S. surprisingly representing the highest end range.

Also, notably the weakest retail categories were jewelry, fashion and leisure, all of which declined by over 10% year over year.

Net-net: the news that the deterioration in the U.S. mall market shows no indication of abating, and rent capacity is substantially deteriorating, not only for the company's 8,889 US malls, but for bankrupt GGP and its competitors, will likely be sufficient reason for other garbage REITs with deteriorating performance metrics to see their stocks jump once again for no other reason aside from... well, no other reason, which seems to be same principle that drives stock trading each and every day in all other garbage sectors.


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