Here’s why Westfield Corp Ltd shares need your attention today

Shares of Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) have fallen just under 2% early in today’s session after the global shopping centre giant updated investors on its first quarter operations.

Westfield Corp owns and operates all Westfield-branded shopping centres in the United Kingdom and the United States.

In the three months ended 31 March, 2016, the company reported a 4.4% year-on-year improvement in annual speciality retail sales of US$725 per square foot (psf). Occupancy levels across the group also improved year-on-year to 94.5%, although occupancy levels at its Flagship centres did decline by 0.7%.

However, sales across the group’s flagship centres still managed to rise at an even faster pace than the group’s average. Annual specialty sales rose 1.8% for the three months and 6.3% year-over-year to US$905 psf, with Westfield Corp to devote the majority of its attention to these centres moving forward.

In an address to shareholders, Westfield’s co-CEO Peter Lowy said: “We continue to focus our strategy to enhance the quality of the portfolio. Since 2010, we have sold 23 assets for $6 billion, joint ventured 22 assets for $4.5 billion and reinvested in our program to improve the quality of our portfolio.

For instance, its US$1.4 billion Westfield World Trade Centre in New York is now fully leased and scheduled to open in August this year. Although there have been delays (it was meant to open in 2015) early indications suggest this could become Westfield’s greatest asset with some of the world’s best brands, including Apple, Under Armour, Victoria’s Secret, H&M and Swatch.

Westfield expects to commence over US$1 billion of projects in 2016 with a pipeline totalling US$10.5 billion of current and future developments. As it stands, 82% of Westfield’s portfolio is now made up of Flagship centres.

Although Westfield might seem like a boring investment, it is well worth a closer look by long-term investors. To begin with, it has the potential to grow as it invests in higher-quality centres and technology (it recognises that the future of retail is not a choice between physical and digital – but both) and the potential to expand further globally.

Meanwhile, it should also benefit local shareholders due to its exposure to foreign markets. It is well positioned to benefit from an ongoing recovery in those markets, while investors should also profit if the Australian dollar continues to decline against the US greenback.

Westfield’s shares are trading 1.9% lower at $10.54 today, which is slightly below their 52-week high price.

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The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Apple and Under Armour (A Shares). Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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