Ramco Gershenson Properties Trust's CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Ramco Gershenson Properties Trust (RPT)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 25, 2012 9:00 a.m. ET

Executives

Dawn Hendershot – Director, Investor Relations

Dennis Gershenson – President and Chief Executive Officer

Gregory Andrews – Chief Financial Officer

Michael Sullivan - Senior Vice President, Asset Management

Analysts

Craig Schmidt - Bank of America

Todd Thomas – KeyBanc Capital Markets

Nathan Isbee – Stifel Nicolaus

Vincent Chao – Deutsche Bank

Michael Mueller – JPMorgan

Wayne Archambo - Monarch Partners

Presentation

Operator

Greetings, and welcome to Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust second quarter 2012 earnings call. [Operator instructions.] It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Ms. Dawn Hendershot, director of investor relations. Thank you, Ms. Hendershot. You may begin.

Dawn Hendershot

Good morning and thank you for joining us for Ramco Gershenson Property Trust’s second quarter conference call. Joining me today are Dennis Gershenson, president and chief executive officer; Gregory Andrews, chief financial officer; and Michael Sullivan, senior vice president of asset management.

At this time, management would like me to inform you that certain statements made during this conference call, which are not historical, may be deemed forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Additionally, statements made during the call are made as of the date of this call. Listeners to any replay should understand that the passage of time by itself will diminish the quality of the statements made. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in any forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, factors and risks that could cause actual results to differ from expectations are detailed in the quarterly press release.

I would now like to turn the call over to Dennis for his opening remarks.

Dennis Gershenson – President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you Dawn, and good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to acknowledge the efforts and successes of the Ramco team in achieving a solid second quarter and first six months of 2012. Our progress year to date is the result of executing on a business plan that emphasizes increasing quality in all aspects of our business.

Although we must view our achievements in the context of an ongoing uncertain economic environment, a significant factor in our success is the ability to sign leases with those best-in-class retailers who have healthy growth outlooks. Because of our first six months results, and the transactions in our pipeline, we are raising our 2012 guidance for certain important operating metrics, as well as our guidance for FFO, even after taking into consideration the effect of a substantial increase in our share count as a result of recent equity raise, and the acquisition of four shopping centers for $108 million.

With this in mind, I would like to address four topics with you this morning. First, I will outline how we have positioned our shopping center portfolio to be successful in the current retail environment and beyond. Second, I will provide an overview of the progress we’ve made toward achieving our stated business objectives for the year. Third, I will review our plans for the balance of 2012. And lastly, I will provide a brief outline of our longer term goals.

We are all aware of the headwinds we face in our challenged economy. In spite of this uncertainty, a number of national retailers continue to perform well, and remain focused on their store expansion plans. The reasons these retailers are succeeding is that they satisfy customers’ desires for quality, value, and necessity items while providing a rewarding customer experience. The one additional element they require to have a successful store is to be located in a shopping center where they can achieve the greatest customer exposure.

Our recent statistics demonstrate that these best-in-class retailers are choosing our shopping centers for their new locations, which speaks volumes about the quality of our real estate and the dominance of our centers in their respective trade areas. For our part, filling our vacancies with those national tenants improves the credit quality of our income stream and bolsters the quality of our tenant mix. These factors ensure that our shopping centers are populated by retailers who can prosper in both good times and bad.

Our 2012 business plan included an aggressive leasing program, coupled with a mandate to reduce our risk profile in specific tenant categories. The operating statistics we report today include not only leased occupancy gains portfolio wide, but also reflect a substantial increase in non-anchor tenant lease occupancy.

Over the last year, lead investors have become more comfortable with the progress our industry has made in filling anchor vacancies. Their focus has turned toward the progress shopping center owners have made in leasing non-anchor space, which was particularly hard hit by losses in local tenancies over the last two and a half years.

At the end of the second quarter, our small shop leased occupancy stands at 86%, and we are projecting that this number will increase by at least 100 basis points to 87% by year end. Thus, based on our leasing velocity, and our continued focus on operational efficiencies, we can report strong growth in same-center NOI for both wholly owned and our joint venture properties.

In order to protect the progress we’ve made in increasing occupancy in our centers, we have pursued a course of reducing risk in those retail categories we feel are most vulnerable. Michael Sullivan will address this topic in detail as part of his prepared remarks.

During the second quarter, we sold two Florida shopping centers, a portion of one Georgia asset, and we gave a property back to the lender in Michigan. With the sale of those centers we completed in the first and second quarters of 2012, we have disposed of the majority of our most challenged properties.

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