Forest City Enterprises' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (FCE.A)

Q1 2012 Earnings Conference Call

June 8, 2012 11:00 AM ET

Executives

David J. LaRue – President and Chief Executive Officer

Robert G. O'Brien – Chief Financial Officer

Matthew L. Messinger – Executive Vice President of Investment Management – New York

Analysts

Sheila McGrath – KBW

Paul Adornato - BMO Capital Markets

Wes Golladay - RBC Capital Markets

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to the Forest City Enterprises’ first quarter 2012 earnings conference call. The Company would like to remind you that today's remarks include forward-looking comments that are covered under the Federal Safe Harbor provision. Actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements due to the various risks, uncertainties and other factors.

Please refer to the risk factors outlined in Forest City’s annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC for discussion of factors that could cause results to differ. This call is being recorded and a replay will be available until 2.00 pm Eastern Time today, both the telephone replay and the webcast will be available until July 07, 2012, at 11.59 pm Eastern Time.

The company would like to remind listeners that it will be using non-GAAP terminology, such as FFO, EBDT, comparable property net operation income or comp NOI and prorate share in its discussion today. Please refer to the company's supplemental package for an explanation of these terms and why the company uses them, as well as reconciliations to their comparable financial measures in accordance with General Accepted Accounting Principles.

Also please note that exhibits referred to during the call today are available on the Investor Relations webpage at www.forestcity.net. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Participants on the call will have an opportunity to ask questions following the company's prepared comments.

I would now like to turn the call over to Forest City's President and CEO, David LaRue. Please go ahead, Mr. LaRue.

David LaRue

Thank you, operator. Good morning, everyone and thank you for joining us today. With me today is Bob O'Brien, our Chief Financial Officer; Matt Messinger, EVP of Investment Management at our New York office is also on the call and available to answer questions during the Q&A. Our first quarter results went out yesterday after the close of the market. By now I hope all of you had a chance to review them.

In a few minutes, I’ll ask Bob to review our financial and operating results. After that, I’ll give an update of our pipeline, and offer some closing thoughts, then we’ll get to your questions.

Let me begin with some overall comments about the quarter. As you saw in our press release, we’ve initiated reporting of FFO, Funds From Operations as a key performance metric. We’ll also continue to report EBDT for the balance of 2012 and then transition to reporting only FFO beginning in 2013. This change is part of our commitment to transparency and to bringing our reporting more in line with common practices among publicly traded real estate companies.

The goal is to make it easier for investors to understand our performance, value creation model, and compare our results with peers. Another part of this commitment which we announced in late March is the change in calendar year end and transition we will make during 2013.

Our results for the first quarter reflect very solid performance from our rental properties portfolio. Once again our residential multifamily business led the way with the third consecutive quarter of double-digit growth in comparable net operating income. Our office and retail properties also showed good growth in comp NOI. Occupancies continued the positive trend with apartments and office hedging up while retail has slid compared to the first quarter of last year. Our comparable mall showed good growth in sales per square foot on a rolling 12-month basis and quarter-over-quarter. As expected, our year-over-year comparisons in FFO, EBDT and net earnings were impacted by a number of non-recurring and non-operating factors including lower income from the sales tax credits, our land and air rights sale to the Cleveland casino developer as well as by our strategic program of selected asset sales and joint ventures. All-in-all, however, we're very pleased with the performance of the business in the first quarter. We continue the process of transitioning properties from under construction pipeline to our operating portfolio, including our large New York project; 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan, Westchester's Ridge Hill and Yonkers, and the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn. 8 Spruce and Ridge Hill are open and operating and the Barclays Center will open in late September.

The transition of these three projects into the portfolio will not only significantly reduce the size of our under-construction pipeline and improve our risk profile, but as they stabilize would benefit from the NOI of these great assets will generate going forward. During the quarter we opened the first of two new multifamily projects at Stapleton and Denver and we also delivered our (inaudible) developed Las Vegas City Hall project. I have more to say about that later in the call. Another noteworthy transition will take place this next week at our annual shareholder meeting.

As you know, earlier this year we announced that two of our Board members who -- our Board will reduce in size and that two non-independent directors would not be re-nominated at the Annual Meeting. Those two directors James Ratner and Joan Shafran will complete their Board service at next Wednesday's meeting after 28 and 15 years respectively.

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