Highwoods first-quarter earnings miss Wall Street estimates

Highwoods Properties reported first-quarter earnings late Tuesday that missed Wall Street estimates.

The Raleigh real estate investment trust reported funds from operations, a profitability measure for REITs, of 66 cents per share for the quarter, compared to 67 cents per share in the first quarter of 2013.

That was below the 71 cents that was the consensus of Wall Street analysts who cover the company, according to Bloomberg.

But Highwoods raised its year-end occupancy forecast as well as its fund from operations outlook.

The company now expects its year-end occupancy to be between 91.3 percent and 92.5 percent, up from 90.8 percent to 92 percent. Funds from operations is expected to be between $2.86 and $2.94 per share. That’s up from $2.82 to $2.94 per share.

Highwoods leased 1.2 million square feet of second generation office space during the first quarter. The company’s quarterly average last year was 956,000 square feet.

In a statement, CEO Ed Fritsch said market conditions continue to improve and that the company continues to focus on leasing up the vacant space in the $549 million worth of acquisitions it made last year.

“Robust year-to-date leasing activity will more than offset the impact of the harsh weather,” Fritsch said in a statement.

Earlier Tuesday, Highwoods shares closed at $39.52, down 9 cents. The stock is up 9 percent this year.

Staff writer David Bracken