Plymouth Industrial REIT, Inc.

Q1 2023 Earnings Conference Call


spk02: Good morning and welcome to the Plymouth Industrial REIT first quarter 2023 earnings call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. Should you need assistance, please signal conference specialists by pressing the star key followed by zero. After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Please note this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Tripp Sullivan of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.
spk05: Thank you. Good morning. Welcome to the Plymouth Industrial Reit conference call to review the company's results for the first quarter of 2023. On the call today will be Jeff Witherell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Penn White, President and Chief Investment Officer, Anthony Saladino, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Jim Conley, Executive Vice President of Asset Management, and Anne Hayward, General Counsel. Our results were released this morning in our earnings press release, which can be found on the Investor Relations section of our website, along with our Form 10-Q and supplemental filed with the SEC. A replay of this call will be available shortly after the conclusion of the call through May 11, 2023. The numbers to access the replay are provided in the earnings press release. For those who listened to the replay of this call, we remind you that the remarks made herein are as of today, May 4th, 2023, and will not be updated subsequent to this call. During this call, certain comments and statements we make may be deemed forward-looking statements within the meaning prescribed by the securities laws, including statements related to the future performance of our portfolio, our pipeline of potential acquisitions and other investments, future dividends, and financing activities. All forward-looking statements represent Plymouth's judgment as of the day of this conference call and are subject to risk and uncertainties that can cause actual results to differ materially from our current expectations. Investors are urged to carefully review various disclosures made by the company, including the risk and other information disclosed in the company's filings with the SEC. We will also discuss certain non-GAAP measures, including but not limited to core FFO, AFFO, and adjusted EBITDA. Definitions of these non-GAAP measures and reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP measures are included in our filings with the SEC. I'll now turn the call over to Jeff Witherall. Please go ahead.
spk06: Thanks, Tripp. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today. We're only a few weeks removed from the Q4 call, and I would like to note that the first quarter was right in line with or slightly better than our outlook for the year. That's exactly what we have this quarter, so we will keep our prepared remarks relatively brief this morning. Same store NOI growth is expected to be the main driver of our organic growth this year, and we reported a 9.1% increase on a cash basis with occupancy in the same store pool at 99.1%. That's a bit above the full year rate we guided to, and Anthony will walk you through that later. We believe the strong same-store NOI growth we're producing puts us near the top of the sector, and we're pleased with how the portfolio is performing. Leasing is a top priority, both within the existing portfolio and in the development program, and we are in great shape with our 2023 expirations and have a strong start on 2024 expirations. Jim will highlight a few stats in a moment, but I'd like to call out the 15.9% increase on a cash basis for leases that commence during the quarter and the 20.5% increase on leases commencing over the next three quarters. That gets us to a full year total of a 19.3% increase. Known all along that we'd have a heavy mixture of contractual rent renewals this year, but we're still hitting the 18 to 20% mark to market with the big increases we're getting on new leases. With our quarterly business update in early April, we shared the current status of our development program. We've brought three of the Phase 1 development projects online with two of them fully leased, a project in Atlanta and one in Portland, Maine, and the other in Cincinnati undergoing active leasing. We have one more project in Atlanta that is expected to be completed later this quarter, and we are actively leasing it. We also expanded Phase 1 to include two smaller projects in Jacksonville. These are already fully leased, and are expected to be completed in the third and fourth quarter. Current development program represents a total investment of $61 million, and we're expecting initial returns on this investment in the range of 7% to 9%. This program has been a good way to unlock the value in land we already owned, and we expect to selectively pursue additional projects if the returns meet our threshold and if we have a clear line of sight on pre-leasing. Golden Triangle continues to be the region where we're seeing a large number of announcements for reshoring and nearshoring initiatives. With over 90% of our portfolio located in this region, we believe we will continue to benefit from the favorable supply and demand dynamics projected to occur over the next 5 to 10 years. One point worth noting is that we are getting these strong rent increases on an absolute and net effective basis, combined with the higher same-store NOI on a much lower cost basis. The other major initiative we've outlined for this year is to continue improving our capital structure. Our net debt plus preferred metric has declined again this quarter, making this the fourth consecutive quarter of reductions. As Anthony will describe later, we expect further delevering to occur as the developments come online, and we will look for other opportunities to improve our capital structure when they make sense. Jim, why don't you provide some color on the leasing activity?
spk01: Thanks, Jeff. Good morning. I want to first touch on the leases we previously signed that commenced during the first quarter. We had a 15.9% rental rate increase on a cash basis on leases commencing in Q1. That's on an aggregate basis. You'll note from the release and the supplemental that the new leases experienced a 37.9% increase, while renewal leases experienced an 11.7% increase. We experienced a 56% renewal rate during the quarter. Of the leases that renewed, 21% were associated with contractual rent bumps. That high percentage of renewals coming from contractual rent bumps is something I'll come back to in a moment. In the development program, which isn't included in these calculations, we had 236,000 square feet commence in our newly constructed industrial facility in Atlanta, Georgia. For signed leases commencing in Q2 through Q4, we will experience an aggregate increase of 20.5% on a cash basis with a 31.2% increase for new leases and a 16.3% increase on renewal leases. When we add up all leases signed through May 1st that will commence in 2023, we will experience an aggregate increase of 19.3% on a cash basis. The lease renewal rate so far for 2023 leasing is 56%, and we have addressed over 72% of the total square footage originally slated to expire in 2023. Consistent with our 2023 operating plan, the Q1 ending occupancy rate was 98.1%. That's down sequentially due to a net 110,000 square feet going vacant during the quarter and the inclusion of 155,000 square feet in new development space completed during the quarter. There are a couple points to note here about 2023 leasing to date. First, clearly, the rental increases are accelerating later in the year, bringing us into that 18% to 20% mark-to-market Jeff noted earlier. Second, with a higher-than-normal rate of renewal leases being associated with contractual renewals, which are typically much lower than if the tenant moved to a market rate, we think the aggregate rent increases could even be higher. Turning to 2024, we have already leased 19% of the initial 2024 expirations. We will experience an aggregate 14.4% increase on a cash basis on these rents, 5.1% for renewals and 61.9% for new tenants. This rental increase compares favorably to this time last year, when our earliest batch of 2023 leases were up 10.1% on a blended basis. The renewal rate for these transactions was 79%, with 34% of the renewal leases associated with contractual renewals. Consistent with nearly every quarter since the pandemic, we have collected over 99% of our rents billed during Q1, and there are currently no active rent deferral agreements. At this point, I'll turn it over to Anthony to discuss our financial results. Thanks, Jim.
spk10: The first quarter was in line with what we anticipated in guidance with some favorability in G&A and higher NOI, partially offset by higher interest expense. Let's walk through some of the key metrics. Game store NOI on a cash basis was up 9.1%. We anticipated this Q1 result would be a bit elevated due to a strong new and renewal leasing rates and favorability in operating expenses. This is above our full-year range of 7.25% to 7.75%, but consistent with the quarterly projections we used to create that range. That's one of the main reasons we affirmed guidance. For instance, we expected the timing of scheduled repairs and maintenance to occur mid-year and that we would receive real estate tax assessments that may not be fully recoverable. This implies a Q2 same-store NOI below the full-year trend line With the second half of the year trending back up, it's purely a timing of expected spend issue. Having said that, as we continue to convert rollover to triple net restructures, we anticipate less leakage prospectively. GMA for the quarter was down year over year on an absolute basis and down 131 basis points as a percentage of revenues. While some of the favorability will be captured on a full year basis, The majority is due to timing of professional fees, and it should be anticipated that we remain range-bound on our full-year G&A outlook. Interest expense continues to reflect the increase in the borrowings on a revolver associated with completing our development plan, and the approximately 355 basis point increase in SOFR year-over-year. The revolver remains are only debt that is not hedged or fixed, And our only use of the revolver at this time is to fund the Jacksonville development buildings. As noted in the release, we have funded approximately 88% of the $61 million of the development program. That now includes the two pre-leased Jacksonville buildings to get us to 720,000 square feet of new space. We do not anticipate the use of the line for the balance of the year. As we discussed last quarter, the weighted average share and unit count was up year-over-year, with a full quarter of the higher share count from the conversion of Madison's remaining shares of the Series B in two tranches last year. We also did not utilize the ATM during Q1 or to date. Turning to our balance sheet, we ended Q1 with net debt to adjusted EBITDA at 7.14 times and net debt plus preferred to adjusted EBITDA at five three times. That's four straight quarters of improvement in the latter metric, leaving us more than a full turn down from Q1 2022. With the development projects coming online this year, we expect more delevering to occur during the second half of the year. As of March 31, 90% of our total debt carried a fixed rate or was fixed through interest rate swaps. The total weighted average cost of debt of 3.96%, with 58% of the total debt on an unsecured basis. Our liquidity position remains strong, as presently we have 10.2 million of cash on hand, plus an additional 7.0 million in operating expense escrows, and 262.5 million of capacity on the revolving line of credit. We continue to evaluate our options to address the Series A preferred earlier than anticipated and the Q4 maturity of the AIG loan if utilizing some of this liquidity and or select dispositions in other financings. We don't have anything new to report on this front, but we will keep you apprised. As noted earlier, with the first quarter results tracking in line with our expectations and development leasing up on schedule, We affirm the 2023 guidance we issued in March. With no large move-outs in the existing portfolio and the continued rent increases we're getting on both new and renewal leases, the range of execution for the balance of the year is determined mainly by how quickly we get our remaining developments leased up. Combined with the continued simplification of the capital structure and the gradual de-levering, We're in a great spot to let our strong same-store NOI growth and market fundamentals shine through.
spk02: Operator, we're now ready to take questions. Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. To ask a question, you may press star then 1 on your touch-tone phone. If you're using a speakerphone, please pick up your handset before pressing the keys. To withdraw your question, please press star then 2. Our first question comes from Nick Fillman from Baird. Please go ahead.
spk08: Maybe starting on capital deployment going forward, looks like you had some solid activity in the leasing pipeline, especially in development. Maybe for Jeff or Penn, going forward, what's the more favorable options? Is it development or acquisitions?
spk06: Hey, Nick. Well, acquisitions have been on hold for the first quarter. Until we see some clarity in the capital markets, both on the debt and the equity side, I don't think you're going to see us doing many acquisitions. On the development side, we've pretty much completed phase one. We did start two small projects in Jacksonville that are fully leased. So on the development side, we're really going to need to see a clear line of sight for a tenant to sign quickly before we're going to start construction. So again, spec construction is probably something we're not going to do.
spk08: Okay, that's helpful. And then maybe turning to Jim, you kind of called out the renewal options that happened during the quarter. Just curious on, like, expirations going forward, what percentage would you say have those embedded options?
spk03: Probably about 10%. Okay.
spk08: And then last one for Anthony. It looks like rent collections quarter over quarter kind of improved, like 30 basis points. Of that, like 100 basis points that you're not collecting rent, is there anything to read through on those specific tenants?
spk10: There's really not. The composition of watch list tenants has not grown. In fact, it's shrunk quarter over quarter. So we anticipate that collections will remain high and shouldn't anticipate any large credit loss impacts for the balance of the year.
spk08: Very helpful. Thanks, guys.
spk02: Thank you. Our next question comes from Todd Thomas from KeyBank. Please go ahead.
spk07: Good morning. This is AJ on for Todd. Just a couple of quick ones and sorry if I missed them joined late. Same store occupancy was 9.1% and the guidance assumes a midpoint of 98.6%. Are there any known move outs or anything specific to point to or is that just an assumption given the macro?
spk10: It's an assumption. We anticipate that same store pool will maintain a fairly high level of occupancy through the balance of the year.
spk07: Okay, that's helpful. And then just switching gears to development, leasing, good momentum in Jacksonville and Boston and the corridor. Can you talk about timing of commencements for Jacksonville and Atlanta phase one? Like when is rent going to commence and is there a free rent period associated just as I think about the model?
spk03: The rent in Atlanta Phase 1 started in February. It was four months free rent, five-year lease. In Jacksonville, one's a 10-year lease, the other's a five-year lease, and they are coming on in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
spk07: Okay, that's helpful. And then just one last one, if I can. Can you talk about rent trends? So last quarter you mentioned there was about a $5 per square foot spread between rents on new supply and your existing in-place rents. Are you seeing that gap improve at all? Thank you.
spk03: Well, in-place rents have gone up roughly 20% on average on every deal that we do. If it wasn't for the fixed rate renewals, it would probably be about 5% higher. As far as the new buildings coming online, we're still seeing a premium for that, but our buildings are closing the gap.
spk08: Great. Thank you.
spk02: The next question we have is from Brian Maher from B. Reilly Securities. Please go ahead.
spk00: Great. Good morning. Any thoughts with, you know, given the squirrely, you know, economic environment, which is kind of making you hit the pause button on spec development, is there any thought of maybe pushing out the Walt on, you know, leases that you are renewing? I think you're maybe at three and a half years now. You know, any thoughts on pushing that out further?
spk06: Well, Brian, I mean, our sweet spot is, is three to five years, right? That's where most of your 3PLs are signing three-year contracts. So three to five years is really the sweet spot for that. You know, we're still seeing, you know, double-digit rental increases. And as construction, you know, dries up here, you know, the thought process is across the industry is that, you know, occupancy is going to be, you know, going to stay high. So We're not really too worried about the wall. I think it's gone up a little bit. We feel pretty good about it. We're not going to turn this into a net lease REIT.
spk00: Okay. Operating expenses were a little higher than we thought. Is there anything kind of unusual going on there?
spk10: No, there's not. We specifically identified real estate taxes. Those have gone up. I think We got hit in Indy. Those were about 10% higher than budget. We still anticipate receipt of assessments for Chicago and Ohio during the second and latter half of the year. We anticipate increases there. And what's important to note on that is not necessarily the absolute increase in real estate taxes, but our continued success and converting role to triple net so that we can capture more of that increase. Uh, so there still is some leakage through, um, the balance of the year. That's why, you know, we anticipate that, um, the same store results will be a little bumpy, um, in the second quarter and then ramp back up within the guidance bound by year end.
spk00: Okay. And then just last for me, It seems like we're kind of getting a little bit of conflicting data, right? So you're putting up good numbers, good rent increases, but you're holding back on development, acquisitions, et cetera. Should the positive trends continue? Are there projects that you're currently, you know, penciling out, you know, thinking about, you know, want to pursue that in the next quarter or two you might pull the trigger on and go ahead with?
spk06: And as far as spec development is concerned, no. But, you know, we've got 200,000 square feet that's been designed in Cincinnati. And if a tenant comes through, you know, based on where the rental rates are and construction costs have come down a little bit, you know, we can build that at a high single-digit yield. So that is something that we're in the market on. A few other locations, same type of thing with our land bank. So we're happy to do that.
spk00: Okay, thank you. That's all for me.
spk02: Yep. Thanks, Brian. Our next question comes from Mike Moeller from J.P. Morgan. Please go ahead.
spk09: Yeah, hi. A couple questions. First of all, appreciate the color on the 23 and 24 commencements. In the 24 commencements, you mentioned about 5% spreads on the renewals. Is there something specific weighing on that, or is that, I guess, the mix of fixed renewals that you alluded to?
spk03: Yes. There was one deal that was 350,000 square feet with a fixed rate renewal of 5.2% over expiring rent. So that brought the average down. If you back that out, the average in all the other deals would be 24.4%.
spk09: Got it. Okay. And then I guess thinking about the development pipeline, if you're looking out, say, the next three years or five years, where do you think or where would you like to see that average total expected investment or pipeline size kind of gravitate around?
spk06: I don't think we really have a great number on that, you know, into the future. I mean, if you look at what our program has been, it's been building on land that we acquire when we buy a deal. And, you know, on some of the most recent deals we've acquired, there's some additional land for us to build on. The infrastructure is in place. So it's very opportunistic. of when we're going to build. We like building. We're adding great value, and as I said, we're building at probably higher yields than a lot of people because we already own the land. Our basis is zero. The infrastructure costs for water, gas, and things like that, it's already in the ground. It's not high risk, and we're not taking development risk, if you will. We'd like to do more of it. It just depends on the location and the land availability, construction costs. I don't think we can really give you like $200 million a year. I don't think we can give you that number. Got it.
spk09: Okay. Makes sense.
spk06: Appreciate it.
spk09: Thank you.
spk02: Thank you. As a final reminder, if you have a question, please press star, then 1. Our next question comes from Mitch Germain from JMP Securities. Please go ahead.
spk04: Thank you. Any thought about recycling some assets here, if you could find some good opportunities in the acquisition market?
spk06: Hey, Mitch. Yeah, we have a handful of properties that we're thinking about selling. So we're going to do it opportunistically. We're going to sell it for a real estate reason. And I think as the market settles down, I think you'll see us sell like I said, about a handful of properties that we've earmarked for disposition.
spk04: Okay, that's helpful. And then has the joint venture discussions been shelved for now until the macro environment stabilizes, or is that still something that's under consideration?
spk06: It's still something that's under consideration. I mean, we're constantly in the market looking at deals. There is some dislocation in the market, believe it or not, so You know, we're looking at deals like that on a JV basis. So, you know, we're in the market every week on that, and, you know, we'd be very willing to do a deal with our existing partners if it's the right deal.
spk04: That's it for me. Thank you. Next quarter.
spk06: Thanks. Thanks, Mitch.
spk02: There appears to be no additional questions. I'll turn it back to Jeff Witherell for any closing remarks.
spk06: Thank you all for joining us this morning. As always, we're available for follow-up questions. Thanks again. Have a great day.
spk02: The conference has now concluded. Thank you for attending today's presentation. You may now disconnect.

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