DDR's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

DDR (DDR)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 17, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Samir Khanal - Senior Director of Investor Relations

Daniel B. Hurwitz - Chief Executive Officer, President, Member of Board of Directors, Chairman of Other Committee, Member of Executive Committee, Member of Management Committee, Member of Pricing Committee and Member of Investment Committee

Paul W. Freddo - Senior Executive Vice President of Leasing & Development

David John Oakes - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Executive Vice President

Analysts

Paul Morgan - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Craig R. Schmidt - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Todd M. Thomas - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Quentin Velleley - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

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

Jonathan Habermann - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Jeffrey J. Donnelly - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Thomas C. Truxillo - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Carol L. Kemple - Hilliard Lyons, Research Division

Cedrik Lachance - Green Street Advisors, Inc., Research Division

Samit Parikh - ISI Group Inc., Research Division

Vincent Chao - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Richard C. Moore - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Michael W. Mueller - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Fourth Quarter 2011 DDR Corp. Earnings Conference Call. My name is Ann, and I will be your coordinator for today's call. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. [Operator Instructions] I would now like turn the presentation over to Mr. Samir Khanal, Senior Director of Investor Relations. Please proceed, sir.

Samir Khanal

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. On today's call you will hear from President and CEO, Dan Hurwitz; Senior Executive Vice President of Leasing and Development, Paul Freddo; and Chief Financial Officer, David Oakes.

Please be aware that certain of our statements today may be forward-looking. Although we believe such statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, you should understand those statements are subject to risk and uncertainties and actual results may differ materially from the forward-looking statements. Additional information about such factors and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ may be found in the press release issued yesterday and filed with the SEC on Form 8-K and in our Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, and filed with the SEC.

In addition, we will be discussing non-GAAP financial measures on today's call, including FFO. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures can be found in our earnings press release issued yesterday. This release and our quarterly financial supplement are available on our website at www.ddr.com.

[Operator Instructions] At this time, it's my pleasure to introduce our CEO, Dan Hurwitz.

Daniel B. Hurwitz

Thank you, Samir. Good morning, and thank you for joining us and for your interest in our company. The fourth quarter of 2011 was another excellent quarter for DDR, but that really should come as no surprise at this point. 2011 and 2010 overall were excellent years for our company as we continue to execute on our articulated strategy designed to enhance all aspects of our business model. We continue to be very consistent performer in very inconsistent times. And we look ahead to 2012, that consistent performance will continue. Fourth quarter 2011 marks 7 consecutive quarters of same-store NOI growth, 7 consecutive quarters of positive leasing spreads, 10 consecutive quarters of leased rate gains, 12 consecutive quarters of balance sheet improvement and 16 consecutive quarters of non-prime asset sales. In addition, the trend for small shop space over the past 2 years has been positive, with a net gain of 1% in 2010, but growing to 29% in 2011 due to move-ins outpacing move-outs. And with regard to tenant accounts receivable and bad debt expense, we have seen continued meaningful reductions over the past 3 years. We are now in the enviable position of having historically low debt maturities and historically high liquidity, with a staggered and balanced maturity profile. We continue to experience historically high leasing velocity with an historically limited tenant watch list. The credit quality of cash flow continues to improve across our portfolio specifically and our sector generally, as described in detail on Page 35 of our updated investor presentation that you can find on our website.

From a balance sheet perspective, we have obvious rating agency momentum and extended debt maturity profile and a significant debt to EBITDA decline to 7.26x on a consolidated basis and 7.74x on a pro rata basis. The bottom line when looking at the DDR story today is that we are still a bit of a contradiction. While our stock continues to trade as a high beta name, our operational performance and balance sheet are increasingly devoid of risk, and we are confident that our operations will continue to improve and our balance sheet will continue to de-risk moving forward.

All the above being said, we are under no illusions regarding the environment in which we operate. We all currently live in an economy impacted by quantitative easing, which artificially and temporarily provides the opportunity for businesses to correct deals of the past, improve the present and prepare for the future. As we continue our quest to further de-risk our balance sheet, we do so in acknowledgment of the fact that quantitative easing is not a policy that will last forever and financial opportunities will undoubtedly be more expensive in the future. As a result, we have pursued opportunistic refinancings, and in many cases have accelerated our plans in order to take advantage of current pricing rather than letting the market take advantage of us. Our goal is to keep it real, acknowledge the unique capital opportunity that currently exists and prepare ourselves for the future with balance and capacity. We have raised approximately $8 billion over the past 3 years, completely recapitalized our company and have taken advantage of the opportunity to dramatically improve our balance sheet, enhance our portfolio and grow our business. The current recovery is fragile at best, and absent a subsidized economy, growth is tepid. We understand that long-term investors are not fooled by short-term financial engineering, artificially inflated FFO growth or chronic spread investing at the expense of NAV. We also recognize that savvy investors know the difference between real growth and CapEx-induced growth. We absolutely believe that those who fail to seize the moment to enhance their portfolio quality and financial standing will present future opportunities for those of us currently pursuing a contrary strategy. Financial stability and a realistic view of today will lead to additional opportunity tomorrow.

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