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The Sydney Morning Herald

Westfield cautious about US

Author: Carolyn Cummins, Commercial Property Editor
Date: 08/08/2002
Words: 241
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Business
Page: 25
Westfield America Trust is cautious about the state of the US economy for the next six months, saying consumers are fickle, spending one month and saving the next.

The trust's managing director, Peter Lowy, said retailers were trying to keep margins strong and avoid too much discounting, and that was flowing through to the shopping centres as higher revenue.

As a result, the trust reported an 8.9 per cent rise in distributions to 7.35c a unit for the six months to June 30.

Mr Lowy forecast a 15.3c distribution to unit holders for the year to December 31.

``At the start of [calendar] 2002, government retail figures showed a rise but we had falling sales," he said.

``And now consumer confidence seems to be picking up at a time when the official figures are falling.

``Consumer confidence is extremely poor ... but consumers are looking for value rather than capital items such as furniture, and that has helped some retailers."

Mr Lowy said retailers were being careful not to discount too much.

Westfield's higher distribution was due to a 78 per cent rise in interim net profit to $163.1 million.

The result included two months contribution from the 23 shopping centres acquired from Dutch-owned Rodamco North America and the Richard E Jacobs group earlier this year, with a total value of about $6 billion.

Westfield America units fell 2c to $1.96.

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