Shares of VEREIT (VER) - Get Report are up over 30% thus far in 2016, far outpacing the 11.5% return of the iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF (IYR) - Get Report . The company's CEO Glenn Rufrano said the soaring share price reflects the success of VEREIT's turnaround plan in the wake of the 2014 accounting scandal that tarnished its reputation and damaged its credit rating.
"I came on in April 2015 and put a brand new board and management in place, and with that leadership we then put a business plan in place last August with four very simple points: cull the portfolio and make it better, reestablish our investment management brand, get back our investment grade rating and put a sustainable dividend in place," said Rufrano. "All those points were put in place and we are executing."
Nearly a quarter of VEREIT's more than $16 billion in property are in restaurants with Red Lobster being the largest tenant in it its portfolio. VEREIT bought $1.6 billion in Red Lobster plots in 2014, financing it in a transaction with the restaurant's previous owner Darden (DRI) - Get Report . The seafood chain was originally 12% of the company's revenue, but Rufrano has pared that down to around 9% and is still in the process of diversifying his holdings.
"We are selling our Red Lobsters, we sold $420 million last year and this year we will continue to sell those assets," said Rufrano. "We will bring the ratio down over time but it has been successful."
In the retail space, VEREIT holds a number of properties inhabited by CVS (CVS) - Get Report and Walgreens (WBA) - Get Report . Rufrano said he is a big fan of drugstores because it is "necessity shopping".
"They are on fine corners. We like the real estate and we are happy with those businesses," said Rufrano.
"Department stores have lost market share for 20 years, we are in an era now where necessity shopping is important, people want value and dollar stores present value," said Refrain.
VEREIT has about a quarter of its portfolio in office space, primarily corporate campuses. Rufrano said credit is often more important than location when choosing an office property. 65% of VEREIT's tenants carry investment grade credit.
Finally, when it comes to the company's dividend which is now 5.3%, Rufrano said he wants to "make it sustainable" and then think about growth.