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Corporate Office Properties Trust performance flat in 1st quarter

Columbia-based office developer Corporate Office Properties Trust on Friday reported a flat performance year-over-year for the three months ended March 31.

The real estate investment trust, which counts the U.S. government and major defense contractors as its biggest clients, reported net income of just $251,000 for the latest quarter, down from $8.9 million a year earlier. As a result, it reported no earnings per share, compared to 11 cents a year ago.

However, REITS prefer to measure their performance using the funds from operations metric, which does not include depreciation and adjusts for other measures. COPT reported funds from operations per share rose to 48 cents from 45 cents the year before.

Revenues from real estate, construction and other services rose to $146.6 million last quarter, compared to $126.2 million a year earlier.

Operating expenses also rose to $121.4 million from $90 million last year. High utility bills and unexpected snow removal caused cost overages of $4.2 million, but a company spokeswoman said COPT recovered some of that money from tenants. It also received higher than anticipated income from development fees, she said.

COPT has been in the process of repositioning its portfolio, unloading assets in difficult markets and older, smaller properties that do not match the needs of COPT's cyber-tenant base. In Baltimore County, it reduced its presence by 2 million square feet to 1.2 million.

About 91 percent of the company's 183-property portfolio, much of it in Maryland, Washington and Virginia, was leased at the end of the quarter. In Greater Baltimore, COPT reported an occupancy rate of 78.4 percent.

COPT President and CEO Roger A. Waesche, Jr. said in a statement he expects to see performance improve later in the year.

"We are at a positive inflection point, and expect 2014 will be a rewarding year for shareholders," he said.

nsherman@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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