Slate Retail REIT Reports Strong Fourth Quarter and Year End 2014 Results

(All dollar amounts in U.S. dollars)

TORONTO, March 19, 2015 /CNW/ - Slate Retail REIT ("Slate Retail" or the "REIT") (TSX: SRT.U / SRT.UN) today announced its financial results for the three months and operating period ended December 31, 2014. All amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated.

Highlights for the Year

  • Acquired 12 grocery-anchored properties
  • Achieved a 96% occupancy rate
  • Completed 333,325 square feet of leasing transactions
  • Rental rates for new leases increased 20.2% above portfolio-wide in-place rent
  • Rental rates for renewed leases increased 5.4%
  • Anchor tenant retention remains 100%

Highlights for the Quarter

  • Increased unitholder distribution by 5%
  • AFFO(1) outpaced forecast by $1.4 million or 34%
  • Completed 28 lease transactions for 86,491 square feet consisting of 20,029 square feet of new leases and 66,462 square feet of lease renewals
  • Rental rates for renewed leases on non-anchor transactions increased $0.91 per square foot or 5.7%
  • Acquired 8 grocery-anchored properties
  • Completed debt structure enhancements on $500 million

Subsequent to the Quarter

  • Announced vend-in of Slate U.S. Opportunity (No. 3) Realty Trust consisting of 13 properties for 1.5 million square feet
  • Acquired, or committed to acquire, 4 grocery-anchored properties

Blair Welch, partner and co-founder of Slate Asset Management LP ("Slate Asset Management" or "Slate") and CEO of Slate Retail said:

"The past year was a remarkable success in many respects beginning with the listing of Slate Retail on the TSX in April, which provided the REIT with improved access to capital to support the expansion of Slate's U.S. retail platform.  We proceeded to acquire twelve additional grocery-anchored properties, each accretive to AFFO on a per unit basis.  Our acquisition program resulted in an approximate 40% increase in portfolio leasable area and the REIT remains one of the most active acquirers in the U.S. grocery-anchored segment.

"Not only did we grow externally through acquisitions but our dedicated management team at Slate has been the driving factor behind a robust 2014 leasing program highlighted by 100% anchor tenant retention, 5.4% rental rate growth at renewal, and overall portfolio occupancy in excess of 96%.  In total we completed over 333,000 square feet of leasing transactions and, in the process, further developed our strong tenant relationships while improving overall portfolio quality."

Key Performance Indicators

  • FFO(1) per unit was $0.33 (excluding a $0.15 per unit non-cash write-off) or $0.03 higher than Forecast
  • AFFO(1) per unit was $0.28, up compared with the Forecast per unit AFFO(1) of $0.26.
  • Balance sheet remains strong with debt to gross book value ratio of 56.4% and 3.9 times interest coverage ratio

             
  Three months ended
December 31, 2014
Operating Period ended
December 31, 2014(3)
Thousands of U.S. dollars excluding ratios, per unit values Actual Forecast(2) Actual Forecast(2)
Rental revenue $14,508 $10,930   $35,779 $31,878
Net operating income ("NOI")(1) $10,085 $7,570   $24,956 $21,717
Number of units outstanding 19,606 16,000   17,185 16,000
Funds from operations ("FFO")(1) $3,500 $4,857   $12,425 $14,072
FFO per unit(1) $0.18 $0.30   $0.72 $0.88
         
Adjusted funds from operations ("AFFO")(1) $5,496 $4,095   $13,792 $11,894
AFFO per unit(1) $0.28 $0.26   $0.80 $0.74
         
  As at December
31, 2014
     
Total assets $648,166      
Total debt $365,538      
Portfolio Occupancy 96 %      
AFFO payout ratio(1) 67.9 %      
Debt / GBV ratio 56.4 %      
Interest coverage ratio 3.89x      
   
(1) See Non-IFRS Measures below.
(2) Forecast as presented in Management Information Circular dated February 3, 2014.
(3) Operating Period as presented in Management's Discussion and Analysis for the year dated December 31, 2014.
   

Operations
During the fourth quarter, management completed 66,462 square feet of renewals. The weighted average rental rate increase on renewals completed under 10,000 square feet was $0.91 or 5.7%. There were no renewals completed greater than 10,000 square feet.

Management also completed 20,029 square feet of new leasing in the fourth quarter. There were seven new leases executed with complimentary uses to the REITs existing consumer staple and service based tenant mix. The weighted average base rent on all new leases was $13.69 which compares favorably to the weighted average portfolio in-place rent of $9.65.

During the Operating Period ended December 31, 2014, the REIT completed 333,325 square feet of new and renewal leasing transactions with 86 tenants. The weighted average rental rate increase on renewals less than 10,000 square feet was $1.16 or 7.3%. The weighted average rental rate increase on renewals greater than 10,000 square feet was $0.15 or 2.4%. In regards to new leasing, the weighted average rental rate of all the new leases signed during the Operating Period was $13.42 which is $2.26 or 20.2% higher than the weighted average in-place rent for comparable space across the portfolio.

Management has renewed 100% of all grocery anchor tenants and continues to proactively renew their lease terms well in advance off expiry. Management continues to see an increase in demand for space at its shopping centers. The lack of new supply and the increase in market occupancy is driving rental rate increases. In addition, management remains focused on increasing lease terms and the credit quality of tenants across the portfolio over the same Operating Period.

Debt Financing
On December 18, 2014, the REIT completed two financing arrangements. The first arrangement is a $50 million, 10-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.80%, secured by three of the REIT's existing properties (the "Mortgage"). The second arrangement is a $450 million corporate credit facility comprised of a term loan (the "Term loan") and a revolving credit facility (the "Revolver"), each for $225 million. The Term loan and Revolver were used to retire and replace approximately $240 million of existing corporate credit facilities.

The combination of the above-mentioned debt financings extends the REIT's debt maturity to approximately 5.2 years, effectively matching the REIT's weighted average lease term. Additionally, the REIT now has a significantly higher percentage of fixed rate debt and lower overall interest costs. The new facilities include structural enhancements that provide the REIT with the flexibility to convert to an unsecured structure in the future.

Distributions and Distribution Reinvestment Plan
The REIT pays a monthly distribution which was increased by 5% in November 2014 to US$0.063 per class U unit of the REIT ("Class U Units"), representing US$0.756 per Class U Unit on an annualized basis.

Holders of Class A Units, Class U Units and Class I Units of the REIT are eligible to participate in the Distribution Reinvestment Plan (the "DRIP"). In electing to participate in the DRIP, unitholders will have their cash distributions used to purchase Class U Units of the REIT and will also receive a "bonus distribution" of units equal in value to 3% of each distribution. Unitholders wishing to participate should contact their investment advisors to enroll. Additional details and information can be found on the REIT's website at www.slateretailreit.com.

The REIT may initially issue up to 620,000 Class U Units of the REIT under the DRIP. The REIT may increase the number of Class U Units available to be issued under the DRIP at any time at its discretion subject to (a) the approval of the Board of Trustees, (b) the approval of any stock exchange upon which the trust units trade, and (c) public disclosure of such an increase.

Outlook
Slate Retail REIT will continue to focus on identifying and acquiring undervalued grocery-anchored retail properties in the U.S. while maintaining a conservative financial structure. These results demonstrate our commitment to those goals and to continuing to create value for our unitholders.

Supplemental Information
All interested parties can access Slate Retail's Supplemental Information online at www.slateretailreit.com under the Investors section.  These materials are also available on SEDAR or upon request to the REIT at info@slateretailreit.com or (416) 644-4264.

Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. These statements include, but are not limited to, concerning the REIT's objectives, its strategies to achieve those objectives, as well as statements with respect to management's beliefs, plans, estimates, intentions, and similar statements concerning anticipated future events, results, circumstances, performance or expectations that are not historical facts. Readers should not place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements.

Forward-looking information involves known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the REIT to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking information. Actual results and developments are likely to differ, and may differ materially, from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained herein.

Such forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions that may prove to be incorrect, including, but not limited to, the continued availability of mortgage financing and current interest rates; the extent of competition for properties; assumptions about the markets in which the REIT and its subsidiaries operate; the global and North American economic environment; and changes in governmental regulations or tax laws.

Although the forward-looking information contained in this MD&A is based upon what management believes are reasonable assumptions, there can be no assurance that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. Certain statements included in this MD&A may be considered "financial outlook" for purposes of applicable securities laws, and such financial outlook may not be appropriate for purposes other than this MD&A. Except as required by applicable law, the REIT undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Non-IFRS Measures
This news release contains financial measures that do not have a standardized meaning under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") as prescribed by the International Accounting Standards Board. Slate Retail uses the following non-IFRS financial measures: Funds from Operations ("FFO"), Adjusted Funds from Operations ("AFFO") on an aggregate and per unit basis and Net Operating Income ("NOI").  Management believes that in addition to conventional measures prepared in accordance with IFRS, investors in the real estate industry use these non-IFRS financial measures to evaluate the REIT's performance and financial condition. Accordingly, FFO and AFFO are used by real estate industry analysts, investors and management as supplemental measures of operating performance of investment property. Management uses AFFO and FFO in addition to net income to report operating results. FFO is an industry standard for evaluating operating performance. AFFO differs from FFO in that AFFO excludes from its definition certain non-cash revenues and expenses recognized under IFRS, such as straight-line rent and the amortization of finance costs, but also includes capital and leasing costs incurred during the period, but capitalized for IFRS purposes. Management also uses AFFO to evaluate the cash generation performance of the REIT available to fund distributions to unitholders, which is why certain non-cash items are excluded and capital expenditures capital and leasing costs are deducted. NOI is used by real estate industry analysts, investors and management to measure operating performance of the REIT's properties. NOI represents total property revenues less property operating and maintenance expenses. Accordingly, NOI excludes certain expenses included in the determination of net income such as investment property fair value gains and indirect operating expenses and financing costs. These items are excluded from NOI in order to provide results that are more closely related to a property's results of operations. Certain items, such as interest expense, while included in FFO, AFFO and net income, do not affect the operating performance of a real estate asset and are often incurred at the REIT level as opposed to the property level. As a result, management uses only those income and expense items that are incurred at the property level to evaluate a property's performance.

About Slate Retail REIT
Slate Retail REIT is an open-ended real estate investment trust focused on U.S. grocery-anchored real estate. The REIT's portfolio includes over 40 properties located primarily across the top 50 U.S. metro markets. The REIT is focused on maximizing value through internal organic rental growth and strategic acquisitions. For more information, please visit www.slateretailreit.com.

About Slate Asset Management
Slate is a leading real estate investment platform with over $2.5 billion in assets under management. Slate is a value-oriented company and a significant sponsor of all its private and publicly-traded investment vehicles, which are tailored to the unique goals and objectives of its investors. The firm's careful and selective investment approach creates long term value with an emphasis on capital preservation and outsized returns. Slate is supported by exceptional people, flexible capital and a proven ability to originate and execute on a wide range of compelling investment opportunities. More information is available at www.slateam.com.

 

SOURCE Slate Retail REIT

For further information:

Contact

Blair Welch
Chief Executive Officer
416 644 4267

Brady Welch
Chief Financial Officer
416 644 4263

Organization Profile

Slate Retail REIT

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