NorthStar Realty Finance's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

NorthStar Realty Finance Corp. ( NRF)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 17, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Al Tylis – Co-President, COO and Secretary

David Hamamoto – Chairman and CEO

Dan Gilbert - Co-President and CIO

Debra Hess – CFO

Analysts

Joshua Barber - Stifel Nicolaus & Company, Inc

Presentation

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the NorthStar Realty Finance Fourth Quarter 2011 Results Conference Call. During today’s presentation, all parties will be in a listen-only mode. Following the presentation, the conference will be opened for questions. (Operator Instructions) This conference is being recorded today Friday, February 17, 2012.

I’d now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Al Tylis Co-President and Chief Operating Officer for NorthStar Realty Finance. Please go ahead, sir.

Al Tylis

Thank you very much. Welcome to NorthStar’s fourth quarter and full-year 2011 conference call.

Before the call begins, I’d like to remind everyone that certain statements made in the course of this call are not based on historical information and may constitute forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and beliefs, and are subject to a number of trends and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements.

I refer you to the company’s filings made with the SEC for more detailed discussion of the risks and factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements made today. The company undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statements that may be made in the course of this call.

Additionally, certain non-GAAP financial measures will be discussed on this conference call. Our presentation of this information is not intended to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for the financial information presented in accordance with GAAP. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most comparable measures prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles can be accessed through our filings with the SEC at www.sec.gov.

With that, I’m now going to turn the call over to our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, David Hamamoto. David?

David Hamamoto

Thanks Al, thanks everyone for joining us. In addition to Al, I’m joined today by Dan Gilbert, Co-President and CIO and Debra Hess our CFO.

During the fourth quarter of 2011, the U.S. economy continued to recover at a slow pace, although recent economic indicators such as employment and business growth have been pointing towards a more of positive trend. Commercial real estate fundamentals improved during 2011, and during the first part of 2012 we’ve seen a rally in the CMBS market, showing further market improvement.

Liquidity in the commercial real estate debt market also improved during 2011, but still remains limited due to the pace of new securitization and the lack of lending by commercial banks. Throughout 2011 we continue to expand our overall platform and steadily increase the cash flow and earnings of the company. As a result, this past week we were pleased to have announced a second consecutive quarterly dividend increase to our common, representing a 35% increase over the last two quarters. As we move into 2012, we find ourselves well positioned to continue to grow the cash flow of the company.

We've historically made it a priority to manage our liquidity and liabilities, and as a result we have a very strong balance sheet with available unrestricted cash, foreign access of any corporate debt maturities coming due in the next several years. With the significant volume of commercial real estate loans maturing over the next several years, we see a compelling investment environment for lenders who have access to capital, a senior management team that is well versed in real estate and complex capital structure and an established in-place commercial real estate loan origination platform.

During 2011, we completed over $800 million of new investments, which included over $300 million of new loan origination for us and our sponsored non-listed REIT. As a step and further returning to our main business line, during the first quarter we closed on two separate $100 million credit facility; one for financing loan origination, and another for AAA CMBS investment.

In addition to our main business lines, we continue to make significant progress in building out our non-listed REIT business including our broker-dealer. Our capital raising pace continues to accelerate further solidifying our position as the key player in the non-listed REIT sector.

Overall, 2011 was a strong year for NorthStar, and we believe due to our broad commercial real estate platform investment expertise and solid balance sheet, we’re well positioned to capitalize on future opportunities and create long-term shareholder value.

Now, I’d like to turn the call over to Al, who’ll further discuss our business strategy. Al.

Al Tylis

Thanks David. During 2011, we focused on continuing to build our franchise and long-term shareholder value through strategically deploying capital into accretive new investments and continuing to build our asset management business.

Going forward we will continue to execute on our strategy of expanding our business volume, while diversifying our sources of capital to the growth of our asset management business. In addition, we will continue to seek to capture relative values through opportunistic investments such as investment opportunities within our own $7 billion commercial real estate portfolio and what we believe to be very attractive pricing of [selling] of our own CDO bonds.

As of today, we own $376 million of our original investment grade CDO bonds at $258 million discounts at par which represents significant embedded cash flows that we may realize in future periods. We’re also continuing to leverage our commercial real estate platform by seeking out opportunities to acquire CDOs from third party managers such as the CapitalSource and CapLease transactions.

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