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Breaking: CBRE, JLL Swing to an Upbeat Tune

Two of the world’s largest commercial real estate brokerage firms have finally cut their losses in the first quarter of 2010. These companies are often a bellwether for the general health of the industry, though typically the first quarter is the slowest of the year.

Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle reported a slim profit of $200,000 in the first quarter, or a penny a share, which is considerably improved from the worrisome $61 million loss in the same period a year ago. Business was up in the Americas, primarily driven by activity in both leasing and property management. Net income was $6 million for the quarter, up from a $22 million loss in 2009.

“We are encouraged by our solid first-quarter results, which were broadly based across geographies and service lines,” said Colin Dyer, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle. “Business prospects for the year are improving and we are moving forward with confidence, but with a close watch on market dynamics.”

Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis didn’t fare quite as well, reporting a loss of $6.6 million. Still, that’s a tremendous improvement from the $36.7 million loss of the first quarter of 2009. Revenue rose to $1 billion, up 15% from $890.4 million a year ago, and earnings nearly doubled to $75 million in the period.

In a particularly encouraging sign, revenue from CBRE’s Americas unit rose 12% for the quarter and operating income for the region doubled.

“Financial performance improved from a year ago in all geographic regions and virtually every service line and was well ahead of our internal expectations,” said Brett White, CEO of CB Richard Ellis.

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