Macerich Co. on Thursday said declining occupancy at its predominately West Coast shopping malls resulted in a fourth quarter loss. But the results were better than analysts expected.

The Santa Monica REIT reported a net loss of $14.4 million (-18 cents per share), compared with net income of $51 million (67 cents) year earlier. Revenue fell 16 percent to less than $120 million.

Funds from operations fell 46 percent to $92.7 million (90 cents). FFO is a closely watched metric for REITS.

The results include an impairment charge of 7 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected FFO of 80 cents a share on revenue of more than $200 million.

Occupancy at its malls at the end of the quarter was 91.1 percent, down from 92.3 percent a year earlier. Tenant sales per square foot at the end of 2009 were $407, down from $441 at the end of 2008.

Macerich’s new Northgate Mall, a 723,000-square-foot property in Marin County, opened Nov. 12. The company recently announced tenant deals with Tory Burch, Ben Bridge Jewelers and Charles David at the redeveloped Santa Monica Place, which is scheduled to open in August with Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom as anchors.

Shares were down 33 cents, or 1 percent, to $29.64 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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