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Simon Property Group Generated Record $4.5B In Cash Flow In 2021 As Retail Recovered

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, a Simon Property Group location.

Reports of the death of the mall have been greatly exaggerated, if Simon Property Group’s latest earnings call is to be believed.

The country’s largest mall owner announced it generated nearly $4.5B in funds from operations in 2021, its best total ever.

During its earnings call, SPG Chairman, CEO and President David Simon said the mall REIT was on strong financial footing thanks in part to its investments in retailers like JCPenney and its ownership stake in Taubman Realty Group.

“They produced terrific results in 2021,” Simon said on the earnings call.

SPG has stakes in 232 properties across three continents, some through Taubman and Paris-based real estate group Klépierre. The developer's footprint is expanding, opening a project each in the UK and South Korea last year and continuing work on locations in France and Japan. 

The REIT's record cash flow came on the back of a strong fourth quarter, in which SPG’s domestic net operating income increased by 22.4% over Q4 the previous year. The company's full-year NOI increased by 12% over 2020, Simon said.

That’s a significant improvement from mid-2021, when SPG began shifting its portfolio of properties as locations in nondominant destinations underperformed. Overall, half of the REIT’s net operating income came from five states this year: Florida, California, Texas, New York and New Jersey.

The REIT also saw its strongest lease-up in six years, inking more than 4,100 leases that took up more than 15M SF of space. Occupancy is also nearing pre-pandemic numbers, reaching 93.4% by the end of the year.

It’s a timely note of confidence for publicly traded SPG, which saw its stock slip 7.8% ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting in late January. The stock has yet to recover from a broader slide since Jan. 13 and is down more than 10% from the previous month, as of noon ET on Wednesday.

“'22 is going to continue to be a transition year, like '21 was,” Simon said on the earnings call, as The Real Deal first reported. “But we kicked the crap out of ‘21.”