CBRE Group Inc., the world's largest commercial real estate brokerage, finished 2012 strong and optimistic as conditions improved in many real estate markets.
The Los Angeles firm said Wednesday that its commissions from property sales rose 22% in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier, led by a 32% jump in the Americas and a 31% increase in Britain.
"We are very pleased with our strong finish to 2012," President Robert Sulentic said. "Despite continued fiscal and economic uncertainty, all of our global operating regions delivered solid top-line growth in the fourth quarter."
The company's business of operating commercial real estate such as offices and warehouses for their owners also continued to grow. Revenue from outsourcing, as it is known, grew 13%.
Fourth-quarter profit was $173 million, or 53 cents a share, up from nearly $80 million, or 25 cents, a year earlier. Excluding selected charges, profit was 55 cents a share, which beat Wall Street analysts' estimates by 6 cents.
Quarterly revenue was up 14% to $2 billion, while revenue for the full year rose 10% to $6.5 billion, the highest annual gross ever reported by the company.
"This was truly a big finish for 2012, especially coming off a sluggish third quarter," said analyst Craig Silvers, president of Bricks & Mortar Capital.
Though continuing to offer caveats that the real estate business could stall again, CBRE predicted earnings could reach as much as $1.45 a share in 2013, an increase of nearly 20%.
"As the market enters its fourth year of a slow recovery, we expect conditions to continue to improve gradually, tracking the performance of the global economy," Sulentic said. "We are encouraged by positive underlying trends in the U.S. economy — and thus expect the Americas to remain the biggest near-term catalyst for our growth."
Shares of CBRE fell 6 cents to $21.85 before fourth-quarter results were released. The share price jumped as much as 76 cents in after-hours trading.