CBRE Group Inc., the world's largest commercial real estate brokerage, turned a profit in the first quarter as U.S. property sales took off.
The Los Angeles firm said Tuesday that income from arranging transactions to buy or rent space in offices, warehouses and other commercial properties helped revenue increase 14% from a year earlier to $1.35 billion.
Growth was driven primarily by activity in the United States as leasing transactions fell off in Europe and sales slid in Asian markets.
"Our leading market position in the U.S. is a crucial advantage in what continues to be an uneven global economic recovery," Chief Executive Brett White said.
First-quarter profit was $27 million, or 8 cents a share, down from $34.4 million, or 11 cents, in the year-earlier quarter. Excluding selected charges, profit would have been 14 cents a share, beating analysts' estimates by a penny and representing an improvement from 13 cents in the year-earlier quarter.
The company's business of managing property for other companies continued to grow, with 58 long-term contracts signed with firms including Microsoft, Adventist Health System and stock exchange NYSE Euronext.
CBRE is headed in the right direction, said analyst Craig Silvers, president of Bricks & Mortar Capital.
"It would be nice if Europe got its act together and there was more certainty in U.S. business, but the factors that are in their control they are executing very well," he said.
CBRE shares rose 16 cents to $18.39 before earnings were announced.