Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust (
Q4 2011 Earnings Call
February 15, 2012 9:00 a.m. ET
Dennis Gershenson - President, Chief Executive Officer
Gregory Andrews - Chief Financial Officer
Michael Sullivan - Senior Vice President, Asset Management
Dawn Hendershot - Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications
Todd Thomas - KeyBanc Capital Markets
Jordan Sadler - KeyBanc Capital Markets
Nathan Isbee - Stifel Nicolaus
Benjamin Yang - Keefe Bruyette & Woods
Vincent Chao - Deutsche Bank Securities
Richard Moore - RBC Capital Markets
Michael Mueller - JPMorgan Chase
Edward Okine - Basso Capital
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Greetings and welcome to the Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust Fourth Quarter 2011 Earnings call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question and answer session will follow the formal presentation. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.
It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Dawn Hendershot, Director of Investor Relations for Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust. Thank you. Ms. Hendershot, you may begin.
Good morning, and thank you for joining us for Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust fourth quarter conference call. Joining me today are Dennis Gershenson, President and Chief Executive Officer; Gregory Andrews, Chief Financial Officer; and Michael Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Asset Management.
At this time, management would like me to inform you that certain statements made during this conference call which are not historical, may be deemed forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Additionally, statements made during the call are made as of the date of this call. Listeners to any replay should understand that the passage of time by itself will diminish the quality of the statements made. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in any forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, factors and risks that could cause actual results to differ from expectations are detailed in the quarterly press release.
I would now like to turn the call over to Dennis for his opening remarks.
Thank you, Dawn. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are pleased you could join us. If there is one thought I would like you to take away from this call, it’s that Ramco-Gershenson has been on a trajectory these last two years to promote quality in all aspects of our business. What do I mean by our commitment to quality? First, we are focused on achieving and maintaining the highest credit quality from our tenant roster and income stream. Second, we are actively engaged in culling from our shopping center portfolio, those assets we consider non-core, and at the same time, pursuing the acquisition of high quality properties in metropolitan markets with superior demographics.
And third, we continue to improve the quality, strength and flexibility of our balance sheet, which will promote a solid foundation for our growth in 2012 and beyond. In 2011, our focus on quality and asset management can be seen through the progress we made in improving the composition of our rental stream. This was achieved by filing large format vacancies and both replacing underperforming big box users as well re-tenanting dark by paying tenants with national creditworthy retailers. And the success we have achieved in leasing our anchor space has resulted in the beginning of a repositioning of our lineup of our top 25 anchor tenants.
Further, these anchor additions will continue to drive smaller tenant occupancy gains. These results demonstrate that our shopping centers are truly the most desirable locations in our trade areas to accommodate the increasing demand for the expansion plans on the part of numerous national retailers. Also during 2011, we actively promoted the improvement in the quality of our shopping center portfolio by selling four non-core assets, including three Florida centers and our only property in South Carolina. We replaced the loss of their rental income by acquiring two high quality class A shopping centers in St. Louis. A new market for the company that created the opportunity to make high quality acquisitions at favorable pricing.
Both St. Louis acquisitions, purchased at a blended cap rate of 7.5%, represent an improvement in the quality of our portfolio demographic profile, a broadening of the credit quality of our tenant roster, and each center presents the opportunity to add real value as the company’s purchase price was based on income and place. The value add benefit will be realized through the lease-up of vacant space and the expansion at one center by the construction of new retail buildings. We anticipate these value add activities will commence in 2012.
Further in 2011, we continue to promote a transformational change in our capital structure. Our efforts allowed us to exceed all of our balance sheet metric goals. That said, it is important you understand, that as we move into 2012, with an emphasis on growing the company and continuing our capital recycling plan, we will jealously guard the progress we made with our balance sheet. In summary, 2011 was a year of real and substantial progress for the company in promoting quality in all aspects of our business. With a commitment as both the near-term and long-term strategy, what are our plans for 2012?
First, as it relates to asset management, we expect to further reduce the number of vacant large format boxes, portfolio-wide. In addition, as we are experiencing and acceleration in leasing commitments, with national credit quality retailers in the 4000 to 10,000 square foot range, our portfolio and leasing statistics will benefit by the combining of numerous small shop spaces. This approach answers the challenge of leasing the sheer volume of small tenant spaces our industry is facing as a whole, because of the shrinking pool of local retailers who also find themselves seriously under-capitalized.