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Getty Realty Corp. (NYSE:GTY)

Q1 2014 Earnings Conference Call

May 8, 2014 08:00 AM ET

Executives

Joshua Dicker - SVP and General Counsel

Dave Driscoll - President and CEO

Chris Constant - CFO

Analysts

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

Operator

Good day and welcome to the Getty Realty Corp First Quarter 2014 Earnings Conference Call. Today’s conference is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Mr. Joshua Dicker, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Please go ahead, sir.

Joshua Dicker

Thank you. I would like to thank you all for joining us for Getty Realty’s quarterly earnings conference call. Yesterday evening, the company released its financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2014. The Form 8-K and earnings release are available on the Investor Relations section of our website at gettyrealty.com.

Certain statements made in the course of this call are not based on historical information and may constitute forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and beliefs and are subject to trends, events and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. Examples of forward-looking statements include those made by Mr. Driscoll regarding lease restructuring, future company operations, financial performance and the Company’s acquisition or redevelopment opportunities.

We caution you that such statements reflect our best judgment based on factors currently known to us and that actual events or results could differ materially. I refer you to the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2013 as well as our other filings with the SEC for a more detailed discussion of the risk factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward looking statements made today. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which reflect our views only as of the date hereof. The company undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statements that will be made in the course of this call.

With that, let me turn the call over to Dave Driscoll, our Chief Executive Officer.

Dave Driscoll

Thank you, Josh and good morning everyone. Welcome to our call for the first quarter of 2014. Our first quarter results reflect the steady progress we’re making to achieve the objectives we set out at the beginning of last year, lease or sell or transitional properties, reduce operating expenses, redeploy capital and accretively grow our company.

What is noteworthy about this quarter is that we had a quiet quarter with little to distract us from our operating results. The noise that so influenced our results during the past 24 to 34 months is finally subsiding and our improved results speak for themselves. Not only are we driving significant year-over-year financial improvement but our sequential quarterly results also show slow but steady improvement. AFFO per share increased to $0.27 per share, a 30% increase from the $0.24 of the prior quarter on revenues of approximately $24 million and year-over-year our AFFO per share increased by 50%. Thus far in 2014, we continue to execute on these transitional activities with an additional 45 locations sold and 11 locations placed into long term triple net leases.

The quarter also benefited from a variety of tailwinds including an overall reduction in our operating cost reflected from these reposition activities completed in this quarter and prior quarters. As we move forward we anticipate continued reductions in operating expenses which have been inflated as a result of our having to main control of low controlled or low contribution sites during the repositioning and redeployment process. The expenses that we’ve had to incur are in the nature of property taxes, maintenance, utility charges and professional cost. We recognize that repositioning work still remains in a number of locations and while additional capital expenditures also maybe required, we continue to look forward to maximizing our return on invested capital and focus on catching measurable improvement from the ongoing work.

The great news is that we are able to focus on the assets we own and on selectively adding assets that will contribute to our cash flow. While we have made great progress, we still have a few challenges we are working through. One item which we’ve discussed in prior calls is the NECG portfolio which has been impacted by litigation in Connecticut. Unlike our transitional properties that were marginal contributed to the company results, the NECG portfolio even today is contributing positively to our results, albeit not as much as we originally anticipated when the NECG lease was first entered into in 2013. This is reflected in ongoing GAAP adjustments in our income statement.

Now to our environmental and remediation efforts. Our overall environmental liability declined in the quarter by approximately $1.5 million to approximately $42 million. As usual I want to underscore that environmental cost and accruals vary considerably from period to period and should be evaluated based on long term multiyear trends rather than quarter-to-quarter. We also continue to be very actively seeking external growth. The challenge however for us and other investors focused on long term returns is in this unusually low interest rate regime there is ferocious competition for income producing assets. Our response to this competition is to stay disciplined and focused on executing on owning the best opportunities bearing in mind our cost of capital and return thresholds.

So while we will remain disciplined, we will continue to also investigate internal growth opportunities inside our own portfolio of more than 900 locations. During the past few years, most of this activity is focused on dispositions to drive down cost and move out slower growth assets. Today however we believe we have opportunities to extract additional value from our existing portfolio. One focus will be exploring redevelopment opportunities for certain locations for higher and better uses to increase our returns on the property. We will also evaluate investing capital to upgrade existing properties and or simply harvest high value locations.

At the present time we’re also exceptionally well positioned to execute on these growth opportunities from a balance sheet perspective. Our balance sheet affords us meaningful capacity and flexibility to support any growth that we undertake. At quarter end, our net debt was less than $135 million which remains at its lowest level in more than three years. The ongoing transformation of getting in to a company that produces consistent internal and external growth is progressing well. We know there will be challenges but we have proven that we are quite capable of overcoming adversity and positioning the company for success. We will continue to recycle non-contributing and slower growth assets to lower our operating costs, thereby improving our bottom line performance.

In summary we are energized by both the internal and external growth opportunities we continue to pursue. We acknowledge that there will still be challenges ahead of us in the transition process but we believe we are in the later stages of this process and are already realizing benefits from the progress made today. We are well capitalized and have a low leverage balance sheet and we will continue to work to enhance shareholder value in 2014 and beyond.

That concludes my prepared remarks and I would ask the operator now to open up the line for questions to see if we can clarify the situation further.

Question-And-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) And we will take our first question from Tony Paolone from JPMorgan.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

Can you give us the cash environmental costs in the quarter just compared to the $881,000 that you booked for GAAP, just what those numbers were?

Dave Driscoll

I am not sure I understand the question, Tony. Good morning. Did you say the attached?

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

No, I’m sorry maybe I didn’t state it very well. Just trying to understand the cash environmental costs in the first quarter…

Dave Driscoll

Okay, no, I thought you said detached and you said cash. So now I got it. So we spent approximately $4 million in the quarter.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

Okay. And is that like if I would take the $881,000 that you booked on a GAAP basis, if I just ignore that completely, that would be about $4 million, could you tell me what the real cash number was?

Dave Driscoll

No, the real cash number was $4 million. That’s what I’m saying. It was just under $4 million, $3.9 million to be more precise.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

Okay, any -- I know it’s an impossible question to some extent. But just any outlook for that number? Does that seem like it’s settling into a certain area or not?

Dave Driscoll

Well, I think that it’s -- frankly I think it’s consistent with all our numbers, which are the variability in the number is just getting less and less and less. So it’s getting steadier and steadier and steadier. And I think that these numbers are close to what they end up like going forward but more and more consistency.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

Okay. And then on…

Dave Driscoll

I want to be clear on environmental though. That can be vary a lot, seasonal to seasonal quarter to quarter but rest of the numbers are getting very steady now.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

Right, okay. On NECG, what was the -- I guess you wrote off the straight line to some extent, it seems like. But what was like the cash contribution from that?

Dave Driscoll

It’s hard to answer that and I think the annualized cash contribution from NECG is somewhere between $2 million and $3 million a year. So you can quarterly adds that if you want to, and that’s a pretty steady number.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

And that’s where it is right now, even with the issues?

Dave Driscoll

Yeah, that’s where the [indiscernible] the point was I kind of making the awkwardly phrased remark -- paragraph in the comments that it’s not like this is a property business, it’s costing us money. It’s contributing. It’s just not contributing as much and since that GAAP basically makes us overstate our revenues and then take reserves down below, it looks like it’s causing all sorts of problems but it generating cash.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

And what’s the magnitude of the, I guess the dispute there? Like is it $5 million number or what’s sort of a difference?

Dave Driscoll

No, I think the dispute is around occupancy. So you can’t -- it isn’t like there is no word or any cash that’s going to come out of it. What we’ll be able to do then once we win is we’ll be able to establish occupancy in the properties. Once you have occupancy in the properties then our tenant can go in and start to really upgrade and redevelop the properties. That requires the ability to enter into long term fuel supply contracts with the suppliers who supply a great deal of the money and the branding incentives to be able to make -- help that upgrade go forward. So it’s obstruction and the ability to redevelop and improve the properties that’s been the significant problem all along.

Tony Paolone - JPMorgan

Okay, got it. And then the impairment, what was that on the income statement? Was that in DISCOPs [ph] or somewhere else? Did I miss it?

David Discroll

I’m going to ask Chris Constant to take that.

Chris Constant

It’s a very small impairment and continuing most of the impairment for the quarter as is discontinue.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) It appears there are no further questions at this time. I’d like to turn the conference back to management for any additional or closing remarks.

David Discroll

Well, we just want to thank everybody for their continued interest in the Company. And we look forward to seeing you in three months to talk about our second quarter results. Have a great day everyone.

Operator

And ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today’s conference and we thank you for your participation.

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