* Q4 net profit 226 mln shekels vs 811 mln shekels
* Q4 rental income up 13 percent to 1.184 bln shekels
* Shares up 2.0 pct in Tel Aviv
(Recasts, adds CEO quotes, analyst comments)
By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV, March 16 (Reuters) - Israeli real estate investment firm Gazit-Globe Ltd GLOB.TA said it sees an improving real estate market worldwide in 2011 as it reported a drop in fourth-quarter net profit.
“The end of 2011 will be better than the end of 2010,” Chairman Chaim Katzman told a news conference. “2011 will be a solid year — not mind-boggling, but solid.”
Chief Executive Roni Soffer said that despite uncertainty in global markets, Gazit-Globe’s property rental income rose 13 percent in the fourth quarter to 1.184 billion shekels.
Katzman added the U.S. real estate market was recovering, especially in the income producing property market in which Gazit-Globe focuses.
“It’s not a sky-high leap, but slowly,” he said. “The residential market is still suffering, especially in places like Florida and Nevada.”
Gazit-Globe, which began operating in North America 20 years ago, is Israel’s largest real estate investment firm. It manages over 6 million square meters of real estate in 660 properties worth 57 billion shekels.
Israel accounts for only about 7 percent of its activities, with the rest spread out over the United States, Canada, Europe and Brazil.
Net profit in the quarter fell to 226 million shekels ($64 million) from 811 million a year earlier.
“This was another positive quarter,” Migdal Capital Markets analyst Adar Etzioni said, adding the growth trend was expected to continue.
“The current price level is a comfortable base for improving the weight of the share in (investment) portfolios.”
The company said it would pay a dividend of 0.39 shekel a share on April 11. Soffer said the company expects to pay a dividend of 1.56 shekels a share in 2011, up from 1.48 in 2010.
Its shares were up 2.0 percent at 42.40 shekels in midday trading in Tel Aviv.
Gazit-Globe invested over 3.5 billion Israel shekels in 2010, including 973 million in the fourth quarter. ($1=3.55 shekels) (Editing by Steven Scheer, Mike Nesbit)