May 22, 2014 / 7:17 AM / 3 years ago

Israeli real estate group Azrieli Q1 profit gains

JERUSALEM, May 22 (Reuters) - Israeli real estate developer Azrieli Group reported an 8 percent rise in quarterly profit as lower costs offset flat income from property rentals.

Azrieli, which is controlled by Canadian businessman David Azrieli, said on Thursday it earned 209 million shekels ($60 million) in the first quarter, up from 194 million a year earlier.

Funds from operations (FFO) in its real estate business rose 4 percent to 192 million shekels. Net operating income (NOI), which reflects the group's core business, edged 1 percent higher to 280 million shekels, reflecting growth in the Israeli office space segment.

NOI in income producing properties in the United States dipped 8 percent in the January-March period, weighed down by the sale of property in Houston and a weaker shekel versus the dollar, Azrieli said.

"The group's growth strategy, which focuses on improving our income-producing properties and expanding our portfolio through acquisitions and development, is reflected in our strong financial results and in significant progress on the development pipeline, which will begin to contribute to NOI in 2015," said Yuval Bronstein, Azrieli's chief executive.

The company's costs during the quarter fell to 1.77 billion shekels from 2.01 billion a year earlier.

During the quarter, Azrieli invested 239 million shekels in investment properties. It invested 1.04 billion shekels in all of 2013.

$1 = 3.4928 Israeli shekels Reporting by Steven Scheer

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