I would now like to introduce Dennis Gershenson, President and Chief Executive Officer and Gregory Andrews, Chief Financial Officer, both of whom who will be presenting prepared remarks this afternoon. Also with us today are Thomas Litzler, Executive Vice President of Development and Michael Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Asset Management.At this time I would like to turn the call over to Dennis, for his opening remarks. Dennis Gershenson Thank you, Dawn. And good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am very pleased to report that even in this continuing, uncertain economy, our balance sheet and operating statistics, be they debt ratios or liquidity, leasing velocity, rental comps, occupancy, same center net income comparisons or operating margins have all improved as compared to our numbers in the first quarter of this year. Also, we have signed more tenant lease agreements this quarter than in any comparable period in the last five years. Further, we have made substantial progress in completing our named value-add redevelopments and we continue to fill our mid-box vacancies. In the second quarter, we signed three anchored tenant agreements, bringing the number of new national and regional destination retailers in excess of 20,000 square feet to seven for the first six months of 2010. At the end of the third quarter of 2009, and again at the beginning of this year, we articulated a commitment to achieve two specific goals for the near term. First, we announced that we would take affirmative action to substantially improve our balance sheet and second, we promised to chart a clear course to credible sustainable earnings growth. We believe that our actions over the last nine month have demonstrated that we are well on our way to achieving both of these objectives. Concerning our balance sheet, in addition to our asset sales and equity raised in the third quarter of 2009, our recent $79 million public offering in May has substantially improved our debt position allowing us to pay down our term loan early retire two long-term mortgages with above market interest rates and we added additional flexibility to our liquidity position by reducing the outstanding balance on our revolving line of credit. Our debt to EBITDA ratio improved 170 basis points from this time last year and 30 basis points from as recent at March 31.
We told you last year that we had set a goal for a debt to EBITDA ratio by year-end 2010 of between 70 and 72 time. At the six months mark we have met this objective. Therefore our capital activities for the second half of the year will focus on generating additional [goals] to meet the requirements of our business plan as well as to further improve our liquidity.We anticipate that we will generate these sums through the sale or contribution to the joint venture of several fully valued asset. We are also reviewing the potential for settling one non-strategic center. Although we are pleased to report our progress to date, you should know that we continue to consider maintaining a strong balance sheet a primary objective. As per our operations, I trust you can see from our supplement and press release that we have begun to gain real traction in 2010. Our same center net operating income portfolio-wide occupancy and operating margins all show improvement over the first quarter. Our leasing progress includes both large format users and smaller retailers who are taking spaces in all of our market with an emphasis on Michigan and Florida. Our lease renewal rate to date is about 75% and although our rental rates for new leases and lease renewals averages are still negative as compared to prior leases executed in much better times, our spreads are substantially improved as compared to Q1 of this year. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com