Avalonbay Communities' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Avalonbay Communities (AVB)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 26, 2012 1:00 pm ET


John Christie - Senior Director of Investor Relations & Research

Timothy J. Naughton - President, Director, Chief Executive Officer, Member of Investment Committee, and Member of Finance Committee

Leo S. Horey - Executive Vice President of Property Operations

Thomas J. Sargeant - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Sean J. Breslin - Executive Vice President of Investments & Asset Management

Mark Hunter - Chief Executive Officer of Residential

Bryce Blair - Chairman, Member of Investment Committee, and Member of Finance Committee


Jana Galan - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Swaroop Yalla - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Robert Stevenson - Macquarie Research

Eric Wolfe - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Conor Fennerty - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Ross T. Nussbaum - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Richard C. Anderson - BMO Capital Markets U.S.

Michael J. Salinsky - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Philip J. Martin - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Paula J. Poskon - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Karin A. Ford - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

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

David Bragg - Zelman & Associates, Research Division



Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to AvalonBay Communities First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference call, Mr. John Christie, Senior Director of Investor Relations. Mr. Christie, you may begin your conference.

John Christie

Thank you, Sarah, and welcome to AvalonBay Communities First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. Before we begin, please note that forward-looking statements may be made during this discussion, and there are a variety of risks and uncertainties associated with forward-looking statements, and actual results may differ materially. There is a discussion of these risks and uncertainties in yesterday afternoon's press release, as well as in the company's Form 10-K and Form 10-Q filed with the SEC.

As usual, the press release does include an attachment with definitions and reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures and other terms, which may be used in today's discussion. The attachment is available on our website at www.avalonbay.com/earnings, and we encourage you to refer to this information during your review of our operating results and financial performance.

And with that, I'll turn the call over to Tim Naughton, CEO and President of AvalonBay Communities for his remarks. Tim?

Timothy J. Naughton

Thanks, John. Welcome to our first quarter call. Joining me today are Tom Sargeant, our Chief Financial Officer; Leo Horey, EVP and Chief Administrative Officer; and Sean Breslin, AVP, Investments and Asset Management. I have some prepared remarks, and then the 4 of us will be available for Q&A afterwards.

I'll start by touching on some of the operating highlights from last quarter with a focus on marketing and portfolio performance. In addition, I'll provide some comments on our development portfolio and recent lease up performance. And lastly, I'd like to provide a little color around recent changes and executive responsibilities of a few members of the management team that we announced earlier this year.

Last night, we reported FFO per share of $1.28, which was up over 18% from the same quarter last year. And after adjusting for nonrecurring items in each period, it was up by almost 23% year-over-year. These exceptional results continue to be driven by solid fundamentals, which in turn are propelling strong portfolio performance. We achieved same-store NOI growth of over 10% for the second consecutive quarter, led by performance on the West Coast, where each region posted double-digit NOI growth in Q1. Revenue growth for the entire same-store portfolio was over 6.5% and was widespread with all 6 regions above 5% for the quarter. Northern California and Seattle continued to lead the way with revenue growth in the 8% to 10% range in Q1. Same-store NOI was also boosted by a 1% drop in same-store expenses in the first quarter, helped in part by mild weather conditions. Reductions in bad debt and marketing related costs also contributed to contain expense growth in Q1. Overall, we beat the midpoint of our guidance by $0.06 per share in Q1 with 2/3 of that coming from community-related NOI and the balance from savings in interest expense. Of the $0.04 per share in community NOI, $0.03 was related to lower than expected operating expenses, with about half of that being timing related. Top line or revenue performance accounted for the other $0.01 variance and was largely in line with the expectations for the quarter.

As I mentioned earlier, the industry and our market continue to benefit from strong fundamentals. The nationwide job picture is improving, despite some recent weakness reported in March and higher unemployment claims reported over the last couple of weeks. For the quarter, national job growth averaged over 200,000 per month or around 2.5 million on an annualized basis, well above the pace of 2011. Job growth continues to be driven by the private sector, as companies start to put some of their cash to work in the form of increased hiring. And importantly, most of the job growth experienced over the last year was for full-time positions as the corporate sector converted part-time jobs to full time, reflecting improved business sentiment.

Over the last 6 months, job growth has been stronger in AVB's markets, which grew at an annual rate of 1.2% versus 0.9% for the overall U.S. economy. Northern California is our strongest region, with over 2% annualized job growth during this period as the technology-oriented markets on the West Coast continue to outperform. Markets with a higher concentration of government workers like D.C. are generally underperforming given the current state of fiscal conditions in the public sector.

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