Forest City Enterprises' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (FCE.A)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

March 30, 2012 11:00 am ET

Executive

David J. LaRue – President and Chief Executive Officer

Robert G. O'Brien – Chief Financial Officer

Matthew L. Messinger – Executive Vice President of Investment Management – New York

Analyst

Sheila K. McGrath – Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc.

Wes Golladay – RBC Capital Markets

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to the Forest City Enterprises, fourth quarter and year-end 2011 earnings conference call. The Company would like to remind you that today's remarks include forward-looking comments that are covered under Federal Safe Harbor provisions. Actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements due to the various risks, uncertainties and other factors.

Please refer to the risk factors outlined in Forest City’s annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC for a discussion of factors that could cause results to differ. This call is being recorded and a replay will be available beginning at 2.00 pm Eastern Time today, both the telephone replay and the webcast will be available until April 30, 2012, at 11.59 pm Eastern Time.

The company would like to remind listeners that it will be using non-GAAP terminology, such as EBDT, comparable property net operation income or comp NOI and prorate share in its discussion today. Please refer to Forest City’s supplemental package for an explanation of these terms and why the company uses them, as well as reconciliations to their comparable financial measures in accordance with General Accepted Accounting Principles.

Also please note that exhibits referred to during today’s call are available on the Investor Relations page on the company’s website, www.forestcity.net. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Participants on the call will have the opportunity to ask questions following the company's prepared comments.

I would now like to turn the call over to Forest City's President and CEO, David LaRue. Please go ahead, Mr. LaRue.

David J. LaRue

Thank you, operator. Good morning, everyone and thank you for joining us today. With me today is Bob O'Brien, our Chief Financial Officer; Matt Messinger, Executive Vice President of Investment Management at our New York office is also on the call and available to answer questions during the Q&A. Our fourth quarter and year-end results went out yesterday after the close of the market. By now I hope all of you had a chance to review them.

In a few minutes, I’ll ask Bob to review our specific financial and operating results. After that, I’ll provide an update on our pipeline, give a brief overview of our full year strategic plan, and offer some closing thoughts, then we’ll get to your questions.

Let me begin with some overall comments about the year. As we indicated in our press release, we’re pleased with our results for fiscal 2011, which included record total EBDT, and reflect a solid performance of our rental property portfolio. Our residential multifamily business had an outstanding year with strong results in comp NOI and consistently high occupancies throughout the year.

In addition, our comp retail portfolio also performed at or above peer averages for the year. Our office results were impacted by the timing of anticipated vacancies mainly at our MetroTech campus in Brooklyn, but we also saw significant strength in the total office portfolio as demonstrated by leasing spreads that were up 8% during 2011.

Our EBDT results also included non-recurring items, most notably our land and air rights sale to Rock Ohio Caesars to the Cleveland Casinos Development. In addition to our strong operating results, 2011 was noteworthy for four city for a number of other reasons.

During 2011, we opened two of our large pipeline properties, 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan and Westchester’s Ridge Hill in Yonkers with leasing progressing on both. Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn opens this coming September. The transition of these three properties, which together represent $1.6 billion of cost of our pro rata share into the portfolio, while significantly improve our risk profile. And we will also bring up our under construction pipeline to less than $500 million in our pro rata share. This is down from its peak of 2.2 billion at our share just a few years ago. As we said previously, our goal going forward is to have our total development and under construction pipeline represent no more than 15% of our balance sheet. A level we believe balances continuing growth through future development, equity requirements and risk.

As 8 Spruce, Ridge Hill, and the Arena continually leaps up and stabilize the impact of these major assets in the New York market will drive increased value creations through future NOI growth. During 2011 and in early 2012, we’ve been able to take advantage of growing demand for rental apartments to activate existing entitlement for new multi-family projects in Washington D.C., Denver and Dallas.

As a company, we continue to be very focused on creating long-term shareholder value and proving our balance sheet is a major component of that focus. During 2011, we reduced total debt by $1.4 billion at full consolidation. We’ve placed a high priority on making further improvements in our debt metrics and capital structure and this will remain one of our primary objectives of our strategic plan for the next four years. I have more to say about this strategic plan later in the call.

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