Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 01, 2012 6:00 pm ET

Executives

Colin Dyer - Global Chief Executive Officer, President, Director and Chairman of Global Executive Committee

Lauralee E. Martin - Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President, Director, Chairman of Global Operating Committee, Member of the Global Executive Steering Committee and Member of Global Executive Committee

Analysts

David Gold - Sidoti & Company, LLC

William C. Marks - JMP Securities LLC, Research Division

David Ridley-Lane - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Brandon Burke Dobell - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

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

Todd Lukasik - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the First Quarter 2012 Earnings Release Conference Call for Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. Today's call is being recorded. Any statements made about future results and performance or about plans, expectations and objectives are forward-looking statements. Actual results and performance may differ from those included in the forward-looking statements as a result of factors discussed in the company's annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011, and in our other reports filed with the SEC. The company disclaims any undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements. A transcript of this call will be posted and available on the company's website. A web audio replay will also be available for download. Information and the link can be found on the company's website. At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Mr. Colin Dyer, Chief Executive Officer, for opening remarks. Please go ahead, sir.

Colin Dyer

Thank you, and hello to everybody. Thank you for joining us for this review of our results for the first quarter of 2012. Lauralee Martin, our Chief Operating and Financial Officer is with me today in Los Angeles, and in a few minutes, she'll review our financial performance in detail. First of all, a few headlines. Our revenue totaled $813 million for the quarter, an 18% increase from the first quarter of 2011, and we were pleased with the broad geographical spread of growth across all of our reporting segments. Adjusted net income was $22 million, or $0.50 per share compared with $1 million, or $0.03 per share in the first quarter of last year.

Adjusted operating income margin improved in all operating segments and on a consolidated basis, the overall margin improved to 3.4% from 1.9% last year. And our Board of Directors has declared a semiannual dividend of $0.20 per share of our common stock, which is up from $0.15 per share previously.

To put these very encouraging results in context, here is a look at conditions in different economies and real estate markets around the world. The global economy continues to move forward, with growth driven by improving conditions in the U.S., and in emerging economies and by injections of liquidity in the Eurozone, rising equity markets, and strengthening business and consumer sentiments. According to the latest forecasts from the IMF, the global economy will grow by 3.5% in 2012, down marginally from 2011. Annual GDP growth is expected to be 1.4% in advanced economies, and 5.7% in emerging and developing countries. For largest economies, the IMF forecasts 2.1% growth for the U.S., 8.2% in China, and 2% in Japan.

To summarize conditions in key real estate markets, we've posted in the Investor Relations section of our website, joneslanglasalle.com, some slides, which we'll now review. Slide 3 shows the Jones Lang LaSalle Investment sales club, depicting capital values in major world markets at different stages of the real estate cycle. Despite our positive stance on global growth this year, our figures indicate a relatively quiet first quarter, with direct investments into real estate, totaling $77 billion globally, 21% below the first quarter of 2011.

We predict that volumes will pick up during the year, and total around $400 billion by year end, or about the same as last year. You'll see that year-on-year, capital values are still growing in virtually all major markets, although the pace of that growth has been -- has begun to slow in a number of them. Prime office yields have remained stable in most major global markets, the result of attractive spreads and continued investor demand for high-quality well-linked assets. We have seen some yield compression in Hong Kong and Singapore, while in the U.S., yields temporary softened in New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

Turning to Slide 4. You'll see a picture of conditions in leasing markets worldwide. Compared to a year ago, growth in rental values has began to slow in a number of markets, and values have actually begun to fall in Singapore and Hong Kong. In Asia Pacific, leasing activity decreased during the quarter, due to corporate caution and slow economic growth, with net absorption falling by 50% quarter-on-quarter, and year-on-year to around 600,000 square meters. Gross leasing volumes fell by about 30% quarter-on-quarter, and in Europe, gross pickup in the first quarter totaled 2.3 million square meters, 15% below the first quarter of 2011.

Absorption in the U.S. remained positive, but was 23% the quarter one -- below the quarter one 2011 levels. These declines may be explained in part by tenants delaying decision on space during the fourth quarter of 2011, at the peak of concerns on euro-related issues. Those delayed decisions may have had an impact on the first quarter of 2012 market volumes. Office vacancy rates continued to trend down during the quarter, with vacancy rates across 94 global markets now standing at 13.4%, its lowest level in more than 2 years. Regional rates vary from 16.4% in the Americas to 10.2% in Asia, and 9.9% in Europe.

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