* Q4 net profit 224 mln shekels vs 269 mln shekels yr earlier
* Q4 property rental income up 10 pct
* To pay quarterly dividend of 0.43 shekel a share
* Chairman: 2013 will be mainly based on organic growth
By Steven Scheer
TEL AVIV, March 20 (Reuters) - Gazit-Globe, Israel’s largest real estate investment company, said it would be difficult to repeat 2012’s strong growth in 2013 as an improving property market would make it tough to find bargains.
During 2012, Gazit-Globe which owns and develops supermarket-anchored shopping centres worldwide, bought 30 properties for rent for 3.8 billion shekels and invested 1.9 billion shekels in new development and redevelopment projects.
For all of 2012, Gazit-Globe’s funds from operations rose 32 percent, while net operating income grew 11 percent.
“We think 2013 will be a decent year,” Chairman Chaim Katzman told Reuters after a news conference. But when asked if the company can duplicate its 2012 growth, he said: “It will be very difficult.”
Katzman said that unlike the last few years where the global downturn allowed Gazit-Globe to buy up prime shopping centres in big cities in the United States, Canada and Europe at low prices, “the deal flow pipeline has dried up ... Nobody is selling.”
As a result, Gazit-Globe will have to rely on organic growth this year, which Katzman said was possible since an improving real estate market means higher rents from tenants.
Still, he said the company was actively seeking a “major strategic transaction” and can use stock and cash of more than $2 billion.
Gazit-Globe earned 224 million shekels ($61 million) in the fourth quarter, down from 269 million a year earlier after a steep drop in the fair value of investment property and property under development.
Its shares were up 0.5 percent in afternoon trading in Tel Aviv to outpace modest gains on the broader bourse.
“We see Gazit as a very good long-term holding and an anchor in a long-term savings portfolio that provides good exposure to quality income-producing real estate with a wide geographic spread,” said Noam Pincu, an analyst at the Psagot brokerage, who rates Gazit-Globe as “hold”.
Gazit-Globe will pay a fourth-quarter dividend of 0.43 shekel per share, or 12 cents, up from 0.4 shekel a share in the third quarter. The company has said it would pay a dividend of to 1.72 shekels a share in 2013, or 0.43 shekel a quarter.
Gazit-globe’s activities are split between the United States, Canada and Europe. Katsman said the US and Canada were recovering well while Europe still lags. But the real estate markets in the Nordic countries, Poland and Russia were performing well.
Gazit-Globe operates in the United States through Equity One and in Canada through First Capital Reality Inc . It is also the largest shareholder in Finland’s Citycon and together with Citigroup controls shopping mall developer Atrium European Real Estate.