Weingarten Realty Investors' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Weingarten Realty Investors (WRI)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

March 01, 2012 11:00 am ET

Executives

Tim Goss -

Andrew M. Alexander - Chief Executive Officer, President, Trust Manager, Chairman of Executive Committee and Chairman of Pricing Committee

Stephen C. Richter - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Robert Smith - Senior Vice President of Development

Johnny L. Hendrix - Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

Analysts

Craig R. Schmidt - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Quentin Velleley - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Ki Kim

Nathan Isbee - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Vincent Chao - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

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

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

Philip J. Martin - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to the Weingarten Realty Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. My name is John, and I'll be your operator for today's call. [Operator Instructions] I will now turn the call over to Mr. Tim Goss. Mr. Goss, you may begin.

Tim Goss

Good morning, and welcome to our fourth quarter 2011 conference call. My name is Tim Goss, and I will be assisting the management team with our Investor Relations efforts. Joining me today is Drew Alexander, President and CEO; Stanford Alexander, Chairman; Johnny Hendrix, Executive Vice President and COO; Steve Richter, Executive Vice President and CFO; Robert Smith, Senior Vice President; and Joe Shafer, Senior Vice President and CAO.

As a reminder, certain statements made during the course of this call are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. These statements are based on management's current expectations and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors. More information about these factors is contained in the company's SEC filings.

Also, during this conference call, management may make reference to certain non-GAAP financial measures such as funds from operations, or FFO, which we believe help analysts and investors to better understand Weingarten's operating results. Reconciliation to this non-GAAP financial measure is available in our supplemental information packet located under the Investor Relations tab of our website.

[Operator Instructions]

I will now turn the call over to Drew Alexander.

Andrew M. Alexander

Thank you, Tim, and thanks to all of you for joining our call. I'm pleased to announce another quarter of solid operating results, which was a fitting finish to a good year considering the economic environment. Our fourth quarter results marked an upward movement in operations which sets the stage for what we believe will be an even stronger 2012.

As we formulated our business plan for 2011, we felt the economy would gradually improve during the year giving us cause for optimism. Instead, we encountered economic turmoil around the world. Nonetheless, we increased occupancy over the course of the year in spite of big-box closings early in the year and finished the year with strong Same Property NOI growth in the fourth quarter. We also made good progress with our disposition program. We sold nearly 120 million of non-core assets in land holdings last year. We remained focused on reducing our land holdings, whether through selling parcels or converting land into new phases of active developments.

During 2011, we sold approximately 17 million of our land held for future development. The proceeds from our disposition program were recycled into investments in acquisitions and our development program. Especially considering the recent improvements in the CMBS market, we are bullish on our ability to continue the evolution of our portfolio through additional capital recycling in 2012 and beyond.

We invested over $65 million in a very competitive acquisition market last year despite an increase in prices for top-tier assets to pre-recession levels, and in some cases, even higher. With an immense amount of capital chasing the higher-quality properties, we continue to actively compete, but have remained disciplined by pursuing only those opportunities that will create acceptable long-term returns to our shareholders.

We also continue to make progress in our New Development program. In 2011, we commenced 3 excellent new projects, including our entry into the Washington, D.C. market, investing over $35 million during the year. We anticipate that both the acquisitions and New Development market will remain challenging, and we will stay focused and disciplined to grow shareholder value in this area. By recycling capital from our disposition program into new acquisitions and development, we continue to further improve the overall quality of our portfolio.

The finance team was also very busy in 2011. We extended the term of our credit facility to 4 years plus an option year and closed a $200 million term loan. This affords us adequate liquidity to handle all near-term debt maturities, which all of us in the industry have come to appreciate.

Now many of you have read reports that indicate our industrial portfolio is on the market. As we have communicated many times in the past, we're open to any opportunities that arise. And under the right circumstances, we would consider selling those assets. However, at this time, we have nothing further to report.

I'll now turn the call over to Steve to discuss our financial results.

Stephen C. Richter

Thanks, Drew. Recurring FFO was $0.48 per diluted share for the quarter versus $0.43 last year, resulting in an increase of 11.6%. Increased occupancy, lower bad debt and reduced interest expense from very favorable refinancings of recent debt maturities were the significant drivers of this increase.

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