Mack-Cali OK

Commercial REIT Mack-Cali (NYSE: CLI  ) released earnings last week that bore up well under scrutiny.

Despite posting a drop in funds from operations to $0.86 per share from $1.05 a year ago, the company claims earnings per share have actually risen $0.02 when a one-time stock gain last year is backed out. Net income fell 43% as construction-related costs climbed. The company didn't record any such expense in the prior-year period. Meanwhile, revenue rose 27% to $193.7 million in the same period.

The company offered an upbeat assessment of the quarter and outlook for the year. While issuing a full-year FFO projection between $3.38 and $3.54 per share, in line with expectations, management said they believe the real estate market has reached an inflection point and is on the road to recovery.

That's good, especially since Mack-Cali is poised to enter the downtown Manhattan real estate market. Last quarter, the company signed an agreement with Manhattan real estate specialist SL Green (NYSE: SLG  ) to purchase 125 Broad St. for $273 million. This follows through on the company's sale last year of its California and Colorado properties and its commitment to the Northeast.  

At quarter-end, Mack-Cali owned more than 34 million square feet of office properties in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Its occupancy rate for in-service properties rose to 92.2% from 92% the prior quarter. That rate gives the company room to benefit from a rising leasing market. The company also boasted of its agreement to develop a 250,000-square-foot office building for Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE: WYN  ) in New Jersey, pre-leased for 15 years.

Mack-Cali's mix of locales makes it appealing, as a drop-off in one  area may be offset from a rise in another, as opposed to having its holdings concentrated like SLGreen in Manhattan or Maguire Properties (NYSE: MPG  ) in southern California. The Northeast tends to have high barriers to entry, while economic diversity exists within the region to give the company a cushion from any certain sector taking a fall. With a $6 billion total market cap and an interest coverage ration of 3.3 times, the company looks like it's in a good place, both financially and geographically.  

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Fool contributor S.J. Caplan does not own shares of the companies discussed in this article.


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