Boston Properties (BXP)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 26, 2011 10:00 am ET


Michael E. LaBelle - Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President and Treasurer

Douglas T. Linde - President of Boston Properties Inc and Director of Boston Properties Inc

Mortimer B. Zuckerman - Co-Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Head of Office of the Chairman, Member of Special Transactions Committee and Member of Significant Transactions Committee

Arista Joyner - Investor Relations Manager

Raymond A. Ritchey - Executive Vice President, National Director of Acquisitions & Development and Member of Office of the Chairman


Mark Biffert - Goldman Sachs

Jonathan Habermann - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Ross T. Nussbaum - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

James C. Feldman - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Jordan Sadler - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Alexander David Goldfarb - Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P., Research Division

Joshua Attie - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Chris Caton - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Michael Bilerman - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Sheila McGrath - Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division

Steven Benyik - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Michael Knott - Green Street Advisors, Inc., Research Division

John W. Guinee - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Robert Stevenson - Macquarie Research



Good morning, and welcome to Boston Properties' Third Quarter Earnings Call. This call is being recorded. [Operator Instructions] At this time, I'd like to turn the call over to Ms. Arista Joyner, Investor Relations Manager for Boston Properties. Please go ahead.

Arista Joyner

Good morning, and welcome to Boston Properties' Third Quarter Earnings Conference Call. The press release and supplemental package were distributed last night, as well as furnished on Form 8-K. In the supplemental package, the company has reconciled all non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures in accordance with Reg G requirements. If you did not receive a copy, these documents are available in the Investor Relations section of our website at An audio webcast of this call will be available for 12 months in the Investor Relations section of our website.

At this time, we would like to inform you that certain statements made during this conference call, which are not historical, may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although Boston Properties believes the expectations reflected in any forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be attained. Factors and risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements were detailed in Tuesday's press release, and from time to time in the company's filings with the SEC. The company does not undertake the duty to update any forward-looking statement.

Having said that, I'd like to welcome Mort Zuckerman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer; Doug Linde, President; and Mike LaBelle, Chief Financial Officer. Also during the question-and-answer portion of our call, our regional management team will be available to answer questions as well.

I would now like to turn the call over to Mort Zuckerman for his formal remarks.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Good morning, everybody. Thank you for joining us. Let me just give you a sort of broader macro view of the markets that we are in and the economy in which we function. I think everybody understands that we have been in a very, very weak economic recovery, if it is a recovery. And that we are still in danger of having a continued decline in the economy, some version of a double dip or at the very least, probably an even more likely scenario is a very, very, very slow recovery. And obviously, this is x the overall economic environment in which we work. However, as you also probably have heard us say many, many times, we have adopted a basic strategy, which has really informed everything we have done for all the years of being in business, which is to try and concentrate on supply-constrained markets and to have the best buildings in those locations.

We are in a very few markets as you probably know. I mean, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Boston, Cambridge and Princeton. All of these markets, particularly the 4 major urban markets and the surrounding areas, we believe, have been the markets that suited our -- basically our business strategy, which is to be in the upper end of the markets to have the best buildings in the supply-constrained markets. Not because everybody doesn't do well in good markets but because this kind of investment and development philosophy has proven to our satisfaction at least that we do much better in difficult markets.

And I think, frankly, the last 3 to 5 years, which we consider to be the beginnings of the downturn in the economy, and we've started to act upon that actually back in 2007 and 2008, we believe that we have been able to do very well relatively in these kinds of markets. Both in terms of the occupancy and the rents of the buildings we already own, but in terms of the buildings we were able to acquire and the buildings we have been able to develop though we are, I think, in very solid condition as a company in the high end of the real estate -- commercial real estate business.

And we believe that we are positioned as well to continue to take advantage of any opportunities which might come up, as we have demonstrated over the last several years in terms of the acquisitions of buildings like the General Motors Building, John Hancock building in Boston, the developments we have been in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in the Washington area. Particularly, as an example, the buildings we've done in Reston, Virginia or in Washington itself. 2200 Pennsylvania Avenue being an outstanding example of a development that has gone extraordinary well, given the nature of the location and the nature of the markets we are in.

So we remain modestly optimistic as we go forward because we simply cannot predict the overall macroeconomic environment. And as much as that we are in an unprecedented kind of environment that I think nobody has been through before and therefore, it is not only unprecedented, it is also unpredictable. But we believe we are positioned to take advantage of that market or those markets that -- especially the ones that we are in. Be they -- whatever direction they may go into, either because it will help in our development side of our operations or it will make it further feasible for us to make additional acquisitions. We are in very strong financial shape and in a position to -- in either direction.

We will be opportunistic in terms any of the activities that we undertake because we are going to be very, very prudent until we get a better sense of where the macroeconomic future of the economy of the United States will take because it will clearly have an influence on the markets we are in. And we look forward to continuing what we believe had been a very solid performance in the context of what has been for many people a very difficult business environment.

With that, I will end my comments except to say that we do think that interest rates will remain very attractive for us over the next several years. And we will be frankly opportunistic in terms of any financing, which we might do either in corporate level or in the property level. And I think this will in effect help us because where there will be some decline in rents, and we expect that on occasion in certain of the markets but not in all. We will take advantage of much lower interest rates as we can refinance various assets that we have and which we have done in at least one particular location. But I'll leave that for my colleagues to discuss and describe.

With that, I will end my comments. And I look forward to your questions later on in this report.

Douglas T. Linde

Thank you, Mort. Good morning, everybody. I wanted to start off by giving my thanks for the effort everyone made to either come down to Washington, D.C. earlier this month or listen to our presentation via webcast when we had our investor conference. We had some pretty simple objectives for that day. We wanted to showcase the depth of our regional management teams. Those are the people who are really doing all that heavy lifting on a daily basis, all the work as we call it. Although it's a lot of fun too. And to illustrate how we can both create and, as Mort suggested, protect value, particularly in the context of what has been a pretty weak macroeconomic environment.

Now the corporate strategy that Mort has articulated, if it's coupled well with a strong financial strategy, we believe, supplemented by our operating platform which I -- we hope you got an appreciation of that a couple of weeks ago, really creates a very unique approach to the office building ownership and management business, and I really think makes Boston Properties a different kind of company.

Our teams identify opportunities and challenges inherent in the assets that we have and maybe the assets we actually own or future developments or acquisitions. And then we try and develop the right plan and position those in the market place. And sometimes we make speculative capital investments either before we try and lease space or in anticipation of leasing space. And what we do is really management-intensive -- I mean, challenging but it's the way you make money in the real estate business.

Execution is everything. It's the key to increasing your market share, and it's the key to superior financial performance. So we hope you came away with a better understanding of how we have both developed our brand and what we think is our unique approach to managing, leasing, developing and acquiring assets. So I just want to say thank you for the time and attention you gave us.

We seem to, again, see a pretty good quarter from an earnings perspective from American businesses, sort of more of the semi, I would say. And the one thing that obviously strikes everybody is that nonfinancial companies are holding over a trillion dollars on their balance sheets. And the percentage of cash that they're holding as a percentage of their total assets is really an unprecedented level, which obviously speaks to the confidence that the companies are having with regard to decision-making, but it also strings to the strength inherent in the tenant base that we have.

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