Federal Realty Investment Trust of Rockville said yesterday that the Washington region's strong economy enabled it to raise rents at the shopping centers it owns here, boosting earnings in the second quarter.

Profit for the quarter ended June 30 was $26.3 million (45 cents per diluted share), compared with $18.1 million (22 cents) in the second quarter of 2003. Revenue was $99.9 million, up from $84.5 million.

Donald C. Wood, the company's president and chief executive, said rents at the shopping centers the company owns were 14 percent higher in the quarter. Rents in the Washington area were 45 percent higher. A spot in its Leesburg center vacated by a Kmart store was leased to Party City Corp. and smaller shops, and a spot in its Mount Vernon Plaza in Alexandria that had been occupied by an Ames store was leased to Michaels Stores Inc. Excluding those two centers, rents were up 26 percent in the Washington area.

"We've had an incredibly strong leasing in the last six months and an incredibly strong Washington economy," Wood said. He said as "old leases have come up for renewal, there's always been a new tenant willing to take that space and pay more."

The company signed 87 leases nationwide, totaling 496,000 square feet -- the most it has ever rented in a single quarter, Wood said.

The company owns 17 million square feet of retail space nationwide, about 5 million square feet of which is in the Washington region.

Funds from operations -- a measurement used for real estate investment trusts that doesn't include depreciation, amortization and one-time items related to the sale of real estate -- were $38.6 million (73 cents), up from $27.7 million (57 cents) in the second quarter last year.

Federal Realty stock closed yesterday at $41.19 a share, up 61 cents.