Earnings Up for Two REITs, ManTech

A round of earnings reported on Wednesday gives a brief snapshot of the health of the Washington area's economy in the midst of the financial crisis.

There was relatively bright news for two local real estate companies, with First Potomac Realty Trust of Bethesda saying profit tripled and Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville posting a rise in profit of nearly 60 percent.

First Potomac, which builds, owns and manages industrial edifices and business parks throughout the metro area, booked earnings of $600,000 (3 cents share) in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $200,000 (1 cent) for the comparable period a year ago.

Douglas J. Donatelli, chief executive of First Potomac, told investors in a conference call that these days "the acquisition market makes a lot more sense for us."

He said that the company has established a joint-venture relationship with an affiliate of Boston-based AEW Capital Management to buy up properties in the Washington area.

For the third quarter of 2008, the company's funds from operations, a common measure of profitability used by real estate investment trusts, were $9.8 million (39 cents), compared with $10.1 million (41 cents). Potomac's portfolio was 88.8 percent leased at the end of the quarter, the company said.

Federal Realty posted net income of $37 million (63 cents), up 58 percent from $23.4 million (41 cents).

That company's funds from operations were $58.3 million (98 cents), compared with $52.5 million (92 cents). And the trust's portfolio was 95.5 percent leased at the end of the quarter.

The local defense industry also continues to rake in profit despite the downturn.

Fairfax-based ManTech International said its third-quarter net income was up 37 percent, to $23.9 million (67 cents) from $17.5 million (51 cents).

ManTech, which provides military technology for the U.S. military in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said revenue rose 27 percent, to $486.1 million.

Executives told investors in a conference call that they remained confident that defense spending, which provides more than 95 percent of its sales, will hold up regardless of which party wins the election next week.

The company said it hired 380 full-time employees over the last quarter and had more than 600 job openings to fill, demonstrating a bullishness not common for companies these days.

The news was not so bright elsewhere.

District-based Blackboard said its earnings fell 36 percent in the third quarter. The company sells educational software.

"Our slowing economy does have negative impact on education spending," chief executive Michael Chasen told investors in a conference call.

Chasen said the kindergarten through high school markets, in particular, were hit in the third quarter, as they depend directly on state and local taxes, which have been ravaged by the downturn in the economy this year.

The company booked net income of $2.1 million (6 cents), down from $3.3 million (11 cents). Revenue was $83.1 million, compared to $61.6 million.

Separately, Online Resources of Chantilly booked a loss in the third quarter even as its revenue increased.

The company, which sells its online programs to banks, credit unions, billing companies and the like, reported a loss of $1.5 million (5 cents), compared with net income of $1.1 million (4 cents). Revenue rose 11 percent, to of $38.1 million.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  October 29, 2008; 7:05 PM ET  | Category:  Earnings , Economy Watch
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