Ramco Gershenson Properties Trust ( RPT) Q3 2011 Earnings Call October 26, 2011 9:00 am ET Executives 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 Analysts Todd Thomas – Keybanc Capital Markets Tayo Okusanya – Jefferies & Co. Ben Yang – Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Vincent Chao – Deutsche Bank Michael Mueller - JP Morgan Chase Rich Moore – RBC Capital Markets Nathan Isbee – Stifel, Nicolaus Presentation Operator
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I would now like to turn the call over to Dennis for his opening remarks.Dennis Gershenson Thank you, Dawn, and good morning ladies and gentlemen. In the third quarter, Ramco Gershenson continued to experience significant improvement in our financial and operating results as well as our balance sheet fundamentals. We ascribe this success to the strength of our shopping center locations, the quality of our tenant roster, our commitment to an aggressive leasing program and a continued focus on maintaining a strong balance sheet. We recognize that our advances are occurring at a time when the overall economy remains uncertain and the number of retailers are closing stores as part of a business strategy reassessment. In spite of these challenges, we continue to experience progress in leasing both to national mid-box retailers and to small shop tenants. It should also be noted that our success in growing net operating income is occurring at the same time as we are building a higher quality shopping center portfolio through asset recycling, as well as that we have made significant improvement to our balance sheet. All of these efforts reduce the company’s risk profile as well as produce a more competitive line-up of shopping centers and greater financial flexibility. Turning to asset management, on the leasing front, our efforts to fill existing anchor vacancies, our desire to combine multiple smaller tenant space to accommodate new, larger format retailers, and our response to smaller tenant spaces created when a new national retailer does not require all of the prior anchor’s premises are paying real dividends. In the third quarter, we increased overall portfolio physical occupancy during the period when we absorbed the loss of two Borders bookstores. I am also happy to report that our overall leased occupancy statistic continues to rise as well, helped by the signing of three larger format retailers including a lease with DSW Shoe Warehouse, who will occupy the majority of one of the Borders vacancies at our East Town Plaza in Madison, Wisconsin.
Further, at a time when a number of shopping center owners are lamenting the slow pace of their small tenant lease-up, we executed leases this quarter with enough small format retailers to advance our non-anchor tenancy portfolio-wide by over 151,000 square feet, or approximately 100 basis points. Part of the credit for this progress is the result of asset management’s streamlining of our leasing process. We have shortened our standard lease form, reduced our contribution and involvement in smaller tenant build-outs, and achieved a substantial compression of the timeline from securing tenant interest through lease execution to store opening.We have also placed a significant emphasis on working with existing tenancies whose leases are about to expire, resulting in a retention rate well above our historical average while at the same time achieving an increase in their average base rental rate. An additional benefit of our leasing activity when coupled with our focus on cost containment is the improvements we are experiencing in our same center statistic; thus as it relates to our shopping center operations, we are very pleased with our results this quarter and we anticipate a continuation of this improvement through year-end. At the beginning of 2011, we discussed our plans for a capital recycling program that involved the sale of non-strategic assets and the purchase of a number of high-quality shopping centers that would accomplish several key objectives, including geographic diversification, portfolio demographic improvement, a continued commitment to reinforcing and broadening the quality of our tenant roster, as well as finding shopping centers with value-add upside potential. The assets we intended to sell as part of the recycling program were a mixed bag, including non-core but fully valued properties, assets that didn’t fit our profile for future ownership, and centers that would not justify the energy and financial commitment necessary to turn them around. To date, we’ve sold three shopping centers, achieving a blended cap rate of 6.97%. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com