Boston Properties' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Boston Properties (BXP)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 02, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Arista Joyner - Investor Relations Manager

Mortimer B. Zuckerman - Co-Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Head of Office of the Chairman, Member of Special Transactions Committee and Member of Significant Transactions Committee

Douglas T. Linde - President of Boston Properties Inc and Director of Boston Properties Inc

Michael E. LaBelle - Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President and Treasurer

Raymond A. Ritchey - Executive Vice President, National Director of Acquisitions & Development and Member of Office of the Chairman

Robert E. Selsam - Senior Vice President and Regional Manager of New York Office

Analysts

Jordan Sadler - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division

Joshua Attie - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

James C. Feldman - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Steve Sakwa - ISI Group Inc., Research Division

Chris Caton - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

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

Michael Knott - Green Street Advisors, Inc., Research Division

Gabriel Hilmoe - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Michael Bilerman - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the Boston Properties First Quarter Earnings Call. This call is being recorded. [Operator Instructions] At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Ms. Arista Joyner, Investor Relations Manager for Boston Properties. Please go ahead.

Arista Joyner

Good morning, and welcome to Boston Properties first quarter earnings conference call. The press release and supplemental package were distributed last night, as well as furnished on Form 8-K. In the supplemental package, the company has reconciled all non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measure in accordance with Reg G requirements. If you did not receive a copy, these documents are available in the Investor Relations section of our website at www.bostonproperties.com. An audio webcast of this call will be available for 12 months in the Investor Relations section of our website.

At this time, we would like to inform you that certain statements made during this conference call, which are not historical, may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although Boston Properties believes the expectations reflected in any forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, it can give no assurance that its expectations will be attained. Factors and risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements were detailed in Tuesday's press release and, from time to time, in the company's filings with the SEC. The company does not undertake a duty to update any forward-looking statement.

Having said that, I'd like to welcome Mort Zuckerman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer; Doug Linde, President; and Mike LaBelle, Chief Financial Officer. Also during the question-and-answer portion of our call, our regional management team will be available to answer questions as well.

I would now like to turn the call over to Mort Zuckerman for his formal remarks.

Mortimer B. Zuckerman

Good morning, everybody. We continue to find that our basic strategy, I guess, is the only way to put it, is holding up very well in what we think are fairly weak economic time in a macro sense. And we continue to believe that we'll continue to do well in this environment, simply because the quality of the buildings and the quality of the locations in the markets that we are in are doing relatively better than the overall economy. And we suspect that this is going to continue so we're actually feeling reasonably optimistic about our business. But I have to say, I have been relatively bearish about the economy, and I continue to be that way because the overall macro numbers are quite weak especially the employment numbers. The employment numbers in the first 3 months of this year were very weak because, let me put it this way, they looked better than they really were because of the way the government counts these numbers when they're so called seasonally adjusted. Well, the fact that we have the warmest pretty months since 1895, an average of 6 degrees per day warmer than and any period going back to 1895. And this means that we basically saved a lot of jobs. People are able to get to work, certain kinds of work like construction was able to continue in the warmer weather, et cetera. The same thing is true in agriculture.

So we're in a situation where the economy overall remains weak. Nevertheless, the areas in which we service, tenants, by and large have continued to be well, relatively well. Certainly, if you look at the markets we are in, they are all still doing fairly well in terms of the kind of space that we offer to the market, which is as we always say in the order of cliches, they're A buildings in A locations. And we have really worked very hard to maintain that particular niche in the marketplace and it served us well in each one of the markets we are in, whether it's Boston or Cambridge, New York, San Francisco, Washington. Now these are the markets that have continued to do well, and I think it shows up in the earnings that we have. The question that we always ask ourselves is, how do we continue to grow the business? And we are in the process of doing either additional acquisitions or we have development that are underway. We have a major development in New York, for example, and we just completed a meeting in which we were going over the tenancy. This is under construction as we speak. We bought a building in Boston that you all probably know, 1,300,000 square foot building. Now these are a couple of the major transactions we have underway, and we're always in the marketplace for buildings that fit into our definition, shall we say, about the kinds of buildings we want to own. And we think we're going to be able to continue to do well because we are relatively considerably financed. We have access to capital on terms that frankly have not been available to anybody in the real estate business since I have been in the business, which I'm embarrassed to say goes back 51 years. So that is an eccentric comparative advantage for us, making it possible for us to make acquisitions or to continue development and to be able to come out with yields that we're comfortable with.

So we're not in an exuberant time, but we think we can continue to prosper in these times because of the unique strategy, because of the credibility we have in the markets we are in, because of our ability to finance whatever we do and because of the ability of every single one of our offices to generate both additional acquisitions, additional sites and additional centers.

So with that, I'll just turn it over to Doug Linde, who will go through our earnings and then we'll just open it up to questions.

Douglas T. Linde

Thanks, Mort. Good morning, everybody. So when I start to think about the first quarter, when you look at the macro data and you looked at what was going on with the announcement of the LTRO in Europe, I think everyone's sort of had a perspective that things were going to do -- be pretty good. It's not robust in the first quarter. I think the data around the real estate markets really was sort of out of sync with those expectations. There really wasn't the same pattern.

The way we would describe things are that the real estate markets have been okay. They haven't been good, but they haven't been bad either. One of the brokers in New York City that we spent a lot of time with said, if you were to pick a color for the market, he would use the color gray for midtown. In other words, there's not much upper pricing on rents, but the pessimists aren't winning the day either. It's just sort of a status quo. There's still some Redskin. There's uncertainty with regards to what's happening with the large financial institutions as we're seeing on a daily basis, and no one's really making bold moves, but as you've heard from some of the previous calls you hear from us today, some of the larger tenants in the market are making decisions because they have lease expirations or they want to get on with life.

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