A severe downturn in shopping mall traffic isn’t deterring Simon Property Group (NYSE:SPG) from maintaining its dividend. On Tuesday, the company — which is the top mall real estate investment trust (REIT) in the U.S. — said its board of directors has declared a common stock distribution of $1.30 per share. This is to be handed out on Oct. 23 to investors of record as of Oct. 9.
The amount matches the previous dividend, which was dispensed in late July. Previous to that, however, Simon was more generous, with a $2.10 per share disbursement.
It almost goes without saying that the company’s major challenge is surviving and thriving inside the coronavirus pandemic. Mandatory shutdowns of retail stores earlier in the pandemic have badly affected their operations, and fresh closures could be looming given the recent upturn in cases in many locations.
That said, Simon hasn’t done too badly considering its far-from-ideal circumstances. It’s still well in the black in terms of funds from operations (FFO, considered the most important profitability metric for REITs), and it has done better than many peer landlords in collecting rent from tenants. And for the moment, tenants in the vast majority of stores the company owns had resumed operations.
Meanwhile, Simon has taken the fairly unorthodox step of investing into some of its larger tenants. It was part of a consortium of investors acquiring the bankrupt Forever 21, among other notable retail fashion brands, and is participating in another retailer rehabilitation project, J.C. Penney.
On Tuesday, Simon’s share price dipped by 2.7%, exceeding the declines of the broader stock market on the day.