UPDATE 4-Simon Property results easily beat Wall St views again

Mon Feb 4, 2013 1:59pm EST
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* Funds from operations $2.29 a share; Wall St expected $2.17

* Simon raises dividend

* Sees full-year 2013 FFO $8.40-$8.50 a share; Wall St view $8.41

* Shares edge higher

By Ilaina Jonas

Feb 4 (Reuters) - Simon Property Group Inc reported a 21.9 percent increase in a key earnings measure for the fourth quarter, easily beating analysts' estimates, as rents and sales rose at its malls and outlet centers.

The No. 1 U.S. mall and outlet center owner also raised its dividend on Monday for the sixth straight quarter.

"They just continue to defy gravity," said Uniplan Investment Counsel President Richard Imperiale, whose fund owns Simon shares. "When you think they're going to flatten out just because there's no more room on the upside, they continue to churn out good operating results."

Simon is the first large mall operator to report results for the fourth quarter, when holiday shopping was less than stellar.   Continued...