Liberty Property Trust's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Liberty Property Trust (LRY)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 24, 2012 01:00 pm ET

Executives

Jeanne Leonard - IR

Bill Hankowsky - Chairman, President & CEO

George Alburger - EVP & CFO

Mike Hagan - EVP & CIO

Rob Fenza - EVP & COO

Analysts

Blaine Heck - Wells Fargo

Joshua Attie - Citi

Alex Goldfarb - Sandler O'Neill

Jordan Sadler - KeyBanc

Ross Nussbaum - UBS

Gabe Hilmoe - UBS

John Guinee - Stifel Nicolaus

John Stewart - Green Street Advisors

Tom Truxillo - Bank of America

Vincent Chao - Deutsche Bank

Presentation

Operator

Good afternoon. My name is Michelle and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Liberty Property Trust first quarter 2012 earnings call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers' remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions)

I would now like to turn the call over to Jeanne Leonard. Please go ahead.

Jeanne Leonard

Thank you, Michelle and thanks everybody for tuning in today. You are going to hear prepared remarks from Chief Executive Office, Bill Hankowsky; Chief Financial Officer, George Alburger; Chief Investment Officer, Mike Hagan; and Chief Operating Officer, Rob Fenza.

Liberty issued a press release on our results this morning, you can access this in the corresponding supplemental information package in the Investor section of Liberty’s website at www.libertyproperty.com. In both documents, you will find a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures we reference today to GAAP measures.

I will also remind you that some of the statements made during this call will include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Federal Securities law. Although Liberty believes the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that these expectations will be achieved. As forward-looking statements, these statements involve risks, uncertainties, and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the expected results, risks that were detailed in the issued press release, and from time-to-time in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company assumes no obligation to update or supplement forward-looking statements that become untrue because of subsequent events.

Bill, would you like to begin?

Bill Hankowsky

Thank you, Jeanne and good afternoon everyone. First quarter represented a good start for Liberty in 2012 and was consistent with our budget and plans for the year. We leased 4.3 million square feet in the quarter, our renewal rate declined from the fourth quarter to 56% consistent with our historical cycles and plan for the year. Occupancy declined as expected for the first half of the year to 90.5%. We continue to improve the company's financial position through the redemption of high dividend preferred securities. These transactions resulted in a one-time gain which has led us to revise our guidance upward to $2.50 to $2.65 a share. George will walk you through the details of that in a moment. Subsequent to quarter's end, we completed our sale of 49 properties for $195 million. We have now exited 5.5 million square feet of suburban office and high-finish flex in the last five quarters, significantly advancing our strategy of increasing Liberty's industrial and metro office product, while decreasing our suburban office product. This transaction also represents an inflection point going forward in Liberty's strategy execution. We will be moving from emphasizing an approach of subtraction i.e. suburban office sales to an approach of addition i.e. through acquisitions and development.

Let me conclude by giving you our sense of where the economy and the real estate markets are. The economy continues a long but frustratingly slow progress back, whereby a couple of good economic reports we get 0:00:43.7 5 like the March numbers appears. Our sense is that there is a very strong level of uncertainty among business decision makers that prevent major employment moves. This has had the greatest impact on office demand as evidenced by the national office vacancy rates remaining at 16% in the first quarter. Industrial demand is stronger as evidenced by the 20 basis point decline in the national vacancy rate to 13.4% in the first quarter.

The net result is that the economic and real estate environments are where we thought they would be for the year, somewhat slightly better than last year. But we feel very good about where Liberty is in this context, on plan for the year with a further strengthening in financial position and with a more valuable and realigned portfolio. And with that let me turn it over to George.

George Alburger

Thank you Bill. FFO for the first quarter was $0.68 per share, the operating results for the quarter include $2.2 million in lease termination fees. Our guidance for the year is that lease termination fees would be in the $0.04 to $0.06 per share range. Similar to previous years, G&A expense is high for us in the first quarter due to the accelerated vesting of long-term incentive compensation. The accelerated vesting resulted in $3.2 million more G&A expense in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the expected quarterly expense for the remaining three quarters of the year.

On February 14 we redeemed $32.5 million of the 6.65% preferred units for $26 million and on March 27 we redeemed $95 million of the 7.45% preferred units at par. FFO for the quarter includes the $6.5 million redemption discount reduced by the write-off of $2.8 million in origination costs. We are revising our 2012 earnings guidance upwards by $0.05 because of the $3.7 million net discount which was recognized in the first quarter and because of the positive impact this redemption will have on earnings for the balance of the year.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

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