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Boston Properties Limited Partnership, an operating partner of real estate investment trust Boston Properties, Inc. (BXP - Analyst Report) announced its intention to divest $1.0 billion of 3.85% senior unsecured notes due 2023 in an underwritten public offering.

The notes were priced at 99.779% of the principal amount to yield 3.876% scheduled to mature on February 1, 2023. The offering is expected to close on June 11, 2012.

The transaction is expected to generate net proceeds of $989.4 million, which will be used for general business purposes, which may include investment opportunities and debt repayment and also investment in short-term, interest-bearing securities.

The company reported first quarter 2012 FFO (funds from operations) of $166.9 million or $1.12 per share, compared with $160.0 million or $1.12 per share in the year-earlier quarter. Funds from operations, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, is obtained after adding depreciation and amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

During the quarter, Boston Properties utilized its “at the market” (ATM) stock offering program to issue over 1 million shares for gross proceeds of approximately $110.5 million. The company ended first quarter 2012 with cash and cash equivalents of $591.2 million.

Massachusetts-based Boston Properties owns and develops one of the largest first-class office portfolios in the U.S. Boston Properties concentrates on a few select high-rent, high barrier-to-entry geographic markets, which usually fare better in a faltering economy. Two of the largest markets of the company, New York and Washington DC are still among the best of the office markets in the US.

The company has one of the best balance sheets in the sector with manageable near-term debt maturities and adequate liquidity to take advantage of distressed selling as asset values of office and retail properties continue to drop.

Boston Properties currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating. We are also maintaining our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock. One of its competitors, Vornado Realty Trust (VNO - Analyst Report) also holds a Zacks #3 Rank.

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