First Industrial Realty Trust's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

First Industrial Realty Trust, Inc. (FR)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 27, 2012 12:00 PM ET

Executives

Art Harmon – Senior Director, IR

Bruce Duncan – President and CEO

Scott Musil – CFO

Robert Walter – SVP, Capital Markets

Analysts

Craig Mailman – Keybanc Capital Markets

Ki Bin Kim – Macquarie Capital Markets

David Rodgers – RBC Capital Markets

John Stewart – Green Street Advisors

Dan Donlan

Presentation

Operator

Good afternoon. My name is Cassandra, and I’d be your conference operator today. At this time, I’d like to welcome everyone to the First Industrial First Quarter Conference 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).

Now, I’d like to turn the call over to Art Harmon, Senior Director of Investor Relations. You may begin.

Art Harmon

Thanks, Cassandra. Hello, everyone and welcome to our call. Before we discuss our first quarter 2012 results, let me remind everyone that the speakers on today’s call will make various remarks regarding future expectations, plans and prospects for First Industrial. These remarks constitute forward-looking statements under the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. First Industrial assumes no obligation to update or supplement these forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements, including those risks discussed in First Industrial’s 10-K for the year ending December 31, 2011, filed with the SEC and subsequent 1934 Act reports.

Reconciliations from GAAP financial measures to non-GAAP financial measures are provided in our supplemental report available at firstindustrial.com under the Investor Relations tab. Since this call may be accessed via replay for a period of time, it is important to note that today’s call includes time-sensitive information that may be accurate only as of today’s date, April 27, 2012.

Our call will begin with remarks by Bruce Duncan, our President and CEO and our CFO Scott Musil after which we will open it up for your questions.

Also on the call today are Jojo Yap, our Chief Investment Officer; Chris Schneider, Senior Vice President of Operations; and Bob Walter, Senior Vice President of Capital Markets and Asset Management.

Now, let me turn the call over to Bruce.

Bruce Duncan

Thanks, Art. And thank you to everyone for joining us today. The First Industrial team is off to a good start in 2012. Our results for the first quarter reflected solid execution on leasing with occupancy of 87.4% at March 31st. As we telegraphed on our last call our occupancy dipped in the first quarter. Due to a typical seasonality plus the known impact of 700,000 square foot move out in Columbus.

With the benefit of continuing demand for industrial space and the efforts of our teammates across the regions, we leased 4.7 million square feet to help offset these factors keeping our decline for the quarter to just 50 basis points.

Compared to a year ago, our occupancy was up 270 basis points. Included in our leasing results for the quarter with the net occupancy gained of 171,000 square feet as a top 10 vacancies we summarize at investor day in November.

However, it is important to note that much of these leasing is short-term. So we still have work to do to realize approximately 220 basis points of occupancy opportunity from leasing the 1.5 million square feet of vacancy in this group. We also have work to do to lengthen the lease terms for some of these assets.

We remained focused on the internal growth opportunity from leasing up these and other vacancies towards our goal of 92% occupancy by yearend 2013.

We increased same-store NOI by 6.7% compared to a year ago. Because of our first quarter performance, we are raising our guidance range for same-store NOI growth to 2.5% to 4.5% for the year, up 50 basis points at both ends of the range.

Our rental rate change was negative 4.6% and was positive 1.2% on a GAAP basis, an improvement compared to last year. While it is good to see this progress in the quarter we aren’t declaring victory on this metric as our outlook for the year costs were continued roll down. Not much is changed in the market environment since we last spoke to you in late February.

We are seeing decent activity across most of our regions. Of note, we’re seeing solid interest in expansions from a number of smaller tenants particularly in Denver and Tampa. While there is increased (inaudible) potential new development projects, there is not much coming out of the ground expect in a few select markets.

Moving on to dispositions in the quarter, we sold three buildings totaling 676,000 square feet or roughly $20 million including two buildings in Portland, Tennessee outside of Nashville. Two of these sales were the users. The other two are an investor. Overall these assets were 70% occupied. We completed the sales at approximately 50% above our written down book basis.

Recall that our sales target for the year remained $75 million to $100 million. Based on our pipeline, we expect this pace to grow in the second quarter and then pick up in the back half of the year. Proceeds will be used for new investments or paying down higher cost debt depending on the relative opportunity.

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