Chesapeake Lodging Trust (NYSE:CHSP)
Q4 2015 Earnings Conference Call
February 18, 2016 5:00 PM ET
Douglas Vicari - Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
James Francis - President and Chief Executive Officer
Graham Wootten - Senior Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer and Secretary
Austin Wurschmidt - KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc
Chris Woronka - Deutsche Bank
David Loeb - Robert W. Baird & Company, Inc
Wes Golladay - RBC Capital Markets
Daniel Donlan - Ladenburg Thalmann & Co.
Good afternoon. My name is Jesse, and I’ll be your conference operator today. At this time, I’d like to welcome everyone to the Chesapeake Lodging Trust Fourth Quarter 2015 Earnings Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers' remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Thank you.
Doug Vicari, you may begin your conference.
Thank you, Jesse. Good afternoon and welcome to the Chesapeake Lodging Trust fourth quarter 2015 earnings call. This is Doug Vicari, Executive Vice President and CFO of Chesapeake. Also on the call this afternoon are Jim Francis, our President and CEO; and Graham Wootten, our Chief Accounting Officer.
As is our custom, I’ll begin with a brief overview of our quarter, including a review of our consolidated results, our summary hotel operating performance, our financial position and an update on our near-term outlook.
After I conclude my commentary, Jim will provide greater detail on the performance of our hotel portfolio. He will also provide some general thoughts on the macro industry trends and more specifics regarding our outlook for our hotel performance.
As a reminder, any statements we make this afternoon about future results and performance or plans and objectives are forward-looking. Actual results may vary as a result of factors, risks and uncertainties over which we have no control. And with that housekeeping behind us, let me begin with a brief review of our highlights and consolidated results for the quarter.
For the quarter, we reported total revenue of $146.2 million and net income of $12.3 million or $0.21 per diluted share. Our adjusted corporate EBITDA was $42.8 million, and our adjusted FFO was $30.7 million or $0.52 per diluted share. As we look at our full-year results, we reported total revenue of $582.6 million and net income of $57.8 million or $0.99 per diluted share. Our adjusted corporate EBITDA was $172.5 million and adjusted FFO was $127.8 million or $2.21 per diluted share.
Let me now move on briefly to our key hotel operating statistics. And as you all know, as we discuss our 2015 hotel operating performance, we continue to report our hotel operating trends on a pro forma basis, as if we owned the hotels throughout the comparison periods.
And for the quarter, our portfolio of 22 hotels, including the Royal Palm and the Ace which we acquired during the year produced RevPAR of $175.68 that represents an increase for the quarter of 3.8% over the prior year that was driven by occupancy of 79% and an average daily rate of $222.41.
These revenue trends resulted in adjusted hotel EBITDA of $47.8 million and our adjusted hotel EBITDA margin was a strong 32.7%, which is a 240 basis point increase over the prior year.
For the full-year, our portfolio of 22 hotels produced RevPAR of $185.88 that represents an increase of 5.7% over the prior year and that was driven by occupancy of 81.3% at an average daily rate of $228.70. These revenue trends resulted in adjusted hotel EBITDA for the full-year of $197.4 million and our adjusted hotel EBITDA margin was 32.7% that represented 130 basis point increases over the prior year.
Again we are satisfied with our results for the quarter despite having to navigate through some weak trends in certain markets very late in the quarter. Jim, will provide more detailed information on the individual hotel performance in his commentary in a few moments. And as a general rule, we are all well-positioned with both our hotels and our markets as we begin 2016.
Moving on to capital markets and our financial position. We were quiet with regard to debt and equity capital raising activities in the quarter. Specifically, we did not sell any shares under our ATM program. And as a reminder, our Board did authorize a $100 million repurchase program right at the end of the third quarter. We will continue to evaluate opportunities presented to us with this program now in place, but we have not utilized that program to date.
We continue to see improvement in our balance sheet and financial position as we end the year. Our balance sheet reflects $50.5 million of cash and cash equivalents, while our total assets at quarter end were [$2,094.3 million]. That includes $1.960 billion of real estate assets. Our long-term debt was $776.2 million and our shareholder equity was $1,209.6 million.
Our leverage ratios at the end of the year were 32.6%, our fixed coverage charge ratio was a strong 3.04 and our net debt-to-EBITDA at the end of the year was 4.2 times. We currently estimate we do have investment capacity based upon our cash position and targeted leverage ratios. However, while we do have some capacity we will be evaluating how we allocate capital in the near-term driven by our overall blended cost of capital, our current and projected operating performance, as well as and importantly the current investor sentiment.
And we do remain confident committed to our strong divided payout performance, which is now set at a quarterly dividend payout of $0.40 per share and reflects a 6.4 yield based upon current stock price.
Let me now just spend a couple of minutes updating you on our 2016 outlook. Today, we are confirming our full-year 2016 outlook that we provided to the market on January 25. As a reminder, our outlook generates adjusted corporate EBITDA ranging from $193.6 million to $200.1 million, and produces again strong FFO available to common shareholders ranging from $2.50 to $2.60 per diluted share.
Consistent with our past practices, this guidance does not reflect any future hotel acquisitions nor any future dispositions. The strong forecast is driven by full-year 2016 RevPAR increase for our hotel portfolio to be in the range of 5% to 7%. We also expect our first quarter RevPAR increase for the portfolio to be in the range of 6.6% to 8%.
The topline growth for the first quarter is expected to result in adjusted corporate EBITDA ranging from $31.2 million to $32.7 million and the first quarter AFFO range is expected to be between $0.37 and $0.40 per diluted share. Again, we are off to a good start in 2016 with regard to this forecast. We’ve seen very solid results in January, and February, and March are trending well.
And with that, I would like to turn the call over to Jim to provide more color on our outlook as well as our recent hotel performance. Jim?
Thanks, Doug. I am not going to spend too much time on Q4 as the quarter is well behind us at this point time and the dynamics of the quarter are well understood. That said, October was a solid month with RevPAR up over 8%, Boston, LA, San Diego and Miami were solid performers for us. Our San Francisco and New York and our New York hotels in particular fell short of our expectations for the month.
November and December trended lower with softness due to city-wide timings and lower group business year-over-year in several of our key markets. Without this group base, there is not adequate compression to drive ADR growth in the transient segments.
Occupancy remained high for the portfolio and in most cases grew, so we had to adjust channel segments in most hotels, which resulted in rate growth challenges. We were able however to increase EBITDA margins, which allowed us to achieve our hotel EBITDA range for the quarter.
We continue to expect in the medium-term solid growth for our well-positioned and largely renovated portfolio. While we understand the lodging cycle is maturing and macroeconomic conditions have soften leading to RevPAR growth decelerating for the industry. We still expect good growth for our assets this year.
Our views are based on assumptions of continuing modest demand growth driven by modest economic growth, continued jobs growth, the strengthening of household balance sheets, which ultimately will increase consumer spending and manageable supply growth of new hotels in the major markets where we are focused. In other words, we are not forecasting a recession in the United States in the near-term.
Looking at 2016, we've already announced our guidance for the first quarter and for the full-year and today we can reaffirm that guidance. We realize this guidance was met with skepticism so let me provide a little additional color. In January, we delivered just over 9% RevPAR growth and February showed similar trends. March presales are shaping up nicely, which should result in a very strong Q1 and start to the year.
Q2 look solid as well albeit the trends are not expected to be quite at the level of Q1. We realize that given the current economic and industry dynamics it’s difficult to forecast transient business beyond one quarter out. However, based upon our group revenue on the books, our current projections for the second half of the year are for mid single-digit RevPAR growth.
For the full-year group revenue is expected to increase approximately 10% compared to the same time last year, which is a very solid foundation for the year and it’s the highest group presell that we have entered a year with in our history. Our group ADR is expected to increase approximately 7% city-wides for 2016 are generally stronger than 2015 in most of our major markets with the only meaningful exception being Chicago.
Now let me provide a little more color on Chesapeake’s markets. San Francisco is our largest market in terms of EBITDA contribution and it continues to be a market with positive long-term supply demand fundamentals. Q4 was a bit choppy as we’ve previously highlighted.
2016 is expected to be very good year with strong RevPAR growth. Our pre-booked strategies for the Super Bowl worked very well for our four San Francisco properties. We were at or near sold-out levels that all four properties with average rates well above $500. We expect strong group trends across the year with the exception of Q4, which has been accounted for. This group base is expected to create compression and allow us to drive ADR growth this year.
The Boston market is continuing its robust performance with a solid convincing calendar and very limited supply growth competing with our properties. With 2016 and beyond looking very strong, Boston may turn out to be the strongest market in the U.S. While our Downtown Hyatt will outperform Newton this year both hotels are expected to deliver strong performance.
In Chicago, as expected based on the timing of city-wides in 2016, the first half of the year is expected to be much weaker than the second half. Q1 will be the worst performance with negative RevPAR growth and then we expect Q2 to modestly improve in the second half of the year appear solid based on city-wides and group pace. We continue to be pleased and encouraged by the tremendous sales efforts at Lakeshore.
In Miami, our Royal Palm hotel continue to perform well in Q4 growing share over 900 basis points against its direct competitive set driven by a high occupancy strategy. EBITDA margin change for the quarter was in the mid-teens. Q1, while highly competitive with the new luxury supply additions, is off to a solid start given the market conditions.
RevPAR is expected to be roughly flat to prior year and EBITDA margin growth is expected in the 500 to 600 basis points range. We continued to be pleased with our direct sales efforts and group bookings continued to be encouraging particularly in the traditionally weaker summer months.
In New Orleans, we own one of the finest hotels in the city that W French Quarter which produces RevPAR results at the very top end of the market. Given its current high performance level for 2016, we expect modest growth from French Quarter. At our second hotel, the Le Meridien, where we completed our $25 million comprehensive asset repositioning and brand conversion.
Group pace has picked up meaningfully and we have deployed numerous transient focus strategies to introduce the customer to our new product. RevPAR is expected to grow double-digits with Q1 off to a very good start. This is another tremendous repositioning and value add project that was successfully executed a little over a year ago.
Out West in Denver, our group pace is strong for 2015 with group revenues expected to increase over 10% year-over-year. We completed a transformational lobby restaurant and bar renovation and added a new 3,500 square foot junior ballroom in 2015. Q1 is soft based on the timing of city-wides, but the remaining three quarters are expected to be very robust as guests enjoy our new public areas and expanded meeting space offerings.
Our LA area properties include the Hilton Checkers and our Ace Hotel and Theater as well as the Hyatt Santa Barbara. Downtown LA continues to be a robust market. Our two Downtown hotels for 2016 was very solid with city-wides up and the growth of the Downtown market expected to continue.
In Santa Barbara, we continue to focus on correcting the revenue management mistakes made at the property in 2015 with the replacement of some of the on-site management personnel. With these changes we expect strong results in 2016 and in Q1, we expect RevPAR growth in the upper single-digits.
In Chesapeake’s smaller markets, our Seattle RevPAR growth for 2016 is expected to be in the mid-to-upper single-digits as Seattle remains a solid market for us. In DC, our RevPAR growth is expected in the mid single-digits. In New York, pricing remains a challenge and RevPAR growth is expected to be modest.
San Diego continues to be a strong market for us and we expect upper single-digit RevPAR growth for both of our hotels and finally in Minneapolis we expect mid single-digit growth.
In summary, our portfolio is in excellent physical shape and we have a strong footprint with much of our EBITDA located in the markets that we believe will have the most favorable fundamentals in 2016.
With that, I’ll open it up for your questions.
[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Austin Wurschmidt with KeyBanc Capital. Your line is open.
Hi, good evening. I guess first off just given the rumors about the Company potentially pursuing a sale, I was wondering if you guys can provide any details to whether the Board is running a formal process and have you guys received any bids up at this point?
Well, as a matter of practice we do not comment on market rumors and that is a market rumor that we’ll not make a comment on. The only thing I’d add is to say that since the day we started the Company, we've always said and would take action to maximize the value of our assets for our shareholders and whether that meant buying assets, managing assets or selling assets or selling the Company we would be open to doing all of that given at any point in time where we are in the cycle, what our expectations are and we continue to hold that position. We’ll do whatever we think and our Board approves that will maximize value to the shareholder.
That’s fair. Thanks for the comments Jim, and then if you guys were running a process would you be able to repurchase shares and it’s under your share repurchase program?
Again, Austin we are not going to make any comments regarding that. We haven't repurchased any shares and we’ll continue to look at that given all the facts and given all the circumstances around the Company.
Okay. Next, I guess how has the current credit market conditions in your view specifically within CMBS impacted your view evaluations today?
Well, I think it’s a – first of all I would say that we don’t I mean at a point in time, short-term issues and credit markets certainly can have an impact, but that doesn't necessarily impact the longer-term value of assets. And certainly I think as we’re all well aware, at the current moment in time the CMBS markets have backed up some and spreads have certainly widened.
Well, I see that as more of a short-term issue I don't think that has a major impact on the long-term value of our assets. I think that if anything as cap rates moved up some because of the macro, the kind of the macroeconomic circumstances and slowing growth and people’s perspective on what that does to lodging. I think that has some impact certainly. I am not sure that debt markets have a major impact though in the very immediate timeframe that certainly impacts – impacting people’s ability to get that.
So from your perspective has there been any change in the interest level or buyer pool for large portfolio transactions versus 6 to 12 months ago?
Again, not been on the front lines of that, but not dramatically, but certainly I think that again in today's market being right now at this moment certainly debt spreads have widened which I’m not on the private equity side, but I would presume from a private equity buyers perspective then impacts their underwriting.
Yes, thanks for taking the question.
Your next question comes from the line of Chris Woronka with Deutsche Bank. Your line is open.
Hey, good afternoon guys. I want to ask you Jim, Doug I mean given you guys with RevPAR guidance in the fourth quarter was obviously came in a little bit wide and then I think you walk through some of the reasons for that and I appreciate all the color on first quarter, but I guess the question is kind of how much conviction do you have kind of beyond first quarter and do you have more bookings on the books right now then you did this time last year I mean is it something tangible you can point to give you confidence?
Sure. Of course the conviction level has to be higher the shorter of the timeframe and so of course our conviction is extremely high on Q1 given where we are in February and the data that we have. I would also say that as we look out into Q2 and Q3 it's fair to say that there is less visibility of the transient part of our business.
I mean I can't say otherwise, but what I would say is that our group business in both particularly Q2 and Q3 are up significantly year-over-year. So while not only does that mean group rates and group room nights are up of course that directly impacts the transient side of the business.
So for any given level of transient demand you know now have less rooms to sell, you’ve compressed your hotel, you shrunk your hotel and that’s you should have more pricing power then we did in the same quarters a year ago. And again our business in Q2 and Q3 in particular on the group side is up very significantly. So that’s tangible information. Now, can I tell you exactly for sure what transient is going to look like in the third quarter.
No, I can only tell you what the fundamentals looks like from a group perspective and we are not seeing group slippage, any meaningful group slippage compared to previous years or anything like that, so I feel very comfortable on the group side, but of course I can't tell you exactly how transient is going to play out.
Q4 is slightly weaker from a group perspective I mean I guess the only good news in Q4 is that on a year-over-year comparison basis 2015 Q4 was relatively weak and so we are going to have more growth in Q1, Q2 and Q3 and we will likely in Q4, but Q4 shouldn’t fall apart either.
Sure, gotcha. Thanks for the color. And then just as we’re moving a little bit closer to the Marriott Starwood merger maybe you guys are talking a little bit more to the properties anything I think I probably asked you last quarter, but anything new there on things you're seeing or within your Hilton or Hyatt things are they being opportunistic and just kind of what you’re seeing there with you guys having all the different brands?
Yes, I mean to tell you honestly we are not seeing a much of a change at this point, there is still remains things to be announced from Marriott on what they're going to do on certain with the merger in certain circumstances, but we are not aware of any changes at this point, we are not – and operationally we are not seeing any changes certainly out in the field and the people that we deal with.
And again I’d just say longer-term I do think it’s a positive overall for the industry. I do think having given the amount of strength that the OTAs have continued to pickup over the last several years having brand strength in the Company like Marriott Starwood combined I think helps in that equation longer-term, but nothing – in the short run here nothing to speak of.
Okay. Very good. Thanks Jim.
[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from the line of David Loeb from Baird. Your line is open.
One out of three isn’t bad. Good afternoon guys. So you kind of talked a little bit about this Jim, but I just wonder if you could just give a little more color on your view of this cycle and about your thoughts around the beginning of divergent views on the cycle not just investors who are very skeptical, but some companies are clearly more negative. Arne Sorenson said, we don't think the sky is falling. So, where are you on the sky falling in the cycle and what do you think about this divergence here?
Well, it’s a good question David. As I said in my prepared remarks, certainly we don’t have our head stuck in the sand, we’re not ignoring macroeconomic conditions, we’re not ignoring what a lot of people are thinking or talking about relative to the industry.
But we also have to take, we look at all the data that we look at every day, every week and again we were a little surprised to the downside in Q4, now Q4 was a totally different dynamic in the sense of lack of group on the books across almost all of our major markets based on just convention cycles et cetera, and certainly the transient business was not as strong as we expected to kind of backfill for the group.
So we understand that from a transient perspective there has been some deceleration in growth. We understand the macroeconomic conditions have softened to some extent, but I think again I don't want to take Arne's quote from him, but I think that's a valid quote. The sky is not falling, we’re not seeing that in our business, and we are reaffirming our range for the quarter and for the year and that's where we think we’re going to be.
And again as previous caller asked, what’s our conviction, certainly I can't be as strong in my conviction about Q4 of this year as I can about Q1, and Q2, and Q3 fall somewhere in between. But I can say the data for us looks really good particularly Q1, Q2 and Q3 and again some softening in Q4.
So I kind of take the middle-of-the-road approach industry RevPARs and the mid single-digits, we’re going to do a little better than that. Supply, there is certainly some supply in certain markets, but again for most of our hotels not directly competitive with our hotels and I don't think and I also said in my remarks, I don't think the U.S. economy sets into a recession in the near-term. So it's kind of middle-of-the-road from our perspective.
At the risk of asking you to comment on somebody else's outlook, which is not what I’m trying to do. You are in a lot of the same markets as LaSalle and they're very concerned about supply in those markets, they are not giving guidance because of the uncertainty and you are very positive about a lot of those markets. What’s different about your hotels?
Well, I mean again I know in general what Mike is saying I don't follow his comments directly and I don't read all of his press releases. I do know that he is not providing guidance. And again I'm not – I don't want to get into LaSalle versus Chesapeake kind of debate or back and forth, but I would point out something. I think LaSalle has a pretty big bed in New York, which we don't.
I think that in Boston, our high is in kind of the growing location of the city, that location is so much better than it was five years ago. The only supply that’s opened is the Gottfried around the corner, which has we sold by the way for over 700 key and it’s a nice little product, but very tight rooms and they have a modest impact on us. It’s not going to be anything significant.
So that’s Boston and San Francisco, there is no supply, no direct supply we can debate all statistics on Airbnb, but I don't think it has a major impact except for when you get the really frothy rates whether it’s the Super Bowl or something else. I do think Airbnb has some impact on those rates, but again in San Francisco for the Super Bowl, we presold contract rates early on so that we didn't have to say it at the end to fill the rooms and we did quite well.
LA, we’re in Downtown LA with two assets which is a different dynamic in Downtown. We continue to – what we see we continue to still share from West LA. So I think we are in a better position compared to some of our peers in LA.
On San Diego, we continue to do well. So look again I'm not forecasting 10% RevPAR growth I'm just saying that kind of middle-of-the-road mid single-digits looks good for our portfolio for this year.
That’s helpful. Thank you Jim.
Your next question comes from Wes Golladay from RBC Capital Markets. Your line is open.
Hey guys, quick question on corporate travel. Would you expect for the corporate negotiated rate and actually the volume as well, more importantly the volume. Do you think business travelers will travel more this year?
I think volume will be roughly flat year-over-year, but certainly not any meaningful decline and I would say corporate negotiated rates varies from market-to-market and hotel-to-hotel, but generally in the mid single-digits call it 4% to 5% maybe a little higher in some markets, but kind of 4% to 5%.
Okay. Then on some other cause we heard a lot about unicorns potential tech slowdown are you seeing any weakness in the technology customers?
Well, I would say certainly as we look at San Francisco right now Q1 is performing very well and Q2 looks to be very positive as well. Again, I mean looking historically now we did have a choppy Q4 in San Francisco with that all technology driven certainly not sure. As I mentioned I think on our previous call the Oracle opportunity at the end of October didn't generate quite frothiness in rates as they had another years. Again now is that because of Airbnb or is that because of some other phenomena in the market. I'm not sure, but I would say at this point in time I would say no we are not seeing any meaningful slowdown or impact from the technology sector.
Okay. And lastly on cancel and rebookings are you guys seeing any noticeable uptick in that?
I wouldn’t say we’re seeing an uptick I would say that it continues to be a challenge for our industry given the technology that's available to the consumer and giving cancellation policies et cetera, but no I wouldn’t say it’s an uptick, it continues to be a challenge.
Okay, thank you.
Your next question comes from the line of Dan Donlan from Ladenburg. Your line is open.
Thank you and good afternoon. Jim, I was curious if you could talk about the Airbnb impact and you guys have – you have some limited service hotels, you have some soft brands, you have some brands, some large group houses is there anyway you can quantify kind of what hotels you think have been to be impacted more than others, is it one you think that's worse than others or is it kind of just depending upon the market and supply?
I think it’s more dependent on the market and the customer in general again a younger technology driven customer maybe is more open to the Airbnb concept. Again it’s very hard to measure and there is a lot of different perspectives. We all know the stats, rates are lower, the length of stay is longer, it certainly not I don't think it's impacting our upper upscale hotels particularly of course group houses I mean I don't think that any meaningful impact.
In San Francisco as an example in Q4 when we are a bit choppy on the transient side or in the Oracle convention maybe didn't produce the ADRs quite at the level we expected. Is that Airbnb? I don't know I mean the honest answer is Dan I don't know.
I would have to suspect that in a market like San Francisco there is some impact and like I said for the Super Bowl, we actually took a little different strategy instead of trying to book the last room at $1,000 a night in the last day or two.
We booked up early with contractual rates and cancellation fees and everything. A lot of it was all prepaid and while our ADR wasn't off the charts it was still very, very strong and of course our occupancy we were basically full every night.
So we are trying to take risk off the table as far as Airbnb and as far as technology is concerned and people rebooking. But I don't know I think its market-by-market and I think certainly it’s event driven when there was a meaningful event in the city and then the Airbnb listings go up significantly.
Okay, that’s helpful. I guess are you more cognizant of it as potentially you look to grow your portfolio, is it something that you start to – you’re now factoring in your underwriting. I’m just kind of curious as to how much?
Well not to be sarcastic, but given our cost of capital right now we’re not underwriting too many deals, but it’s a good question. I think that we think about it in the way not so much specifically thinking whether Airbnb, how much does it impact the ADR growth in this pro forma, but I do think we think about in the sense of Airbnb technology and rates being so transparent et cetera and how we think about rate growth in general in our underwriting. So yes, I think we take it into account, but it's hard to say specifically how we do that.
Sure. And then just kind of lastly on LA, are you expecting a pretty decent pop in kind of fall into the winter months from the new football team that’s are maybe potentially two football teams that are there? What do you have more robust expectations and maybe you did prior to that announcement?
Well, we have for both of our assets in LA we have pretty fairly robust expectations throughout the year just given the Renaissance of Downtown LA given the amount of group business that we have year-over-year. We have not changed our budgets or our forecast at this point based on the football situation. Ultimately, that should have – certainly have a positive impact, but no that's not in our forecast at this point in time.
Generally small key counts in those two hotels and we’re running very high occupancy so there is even with that pop it wouldn't be I mean where we’ve got a good outlook for LA and but it hasn’t changed dramatically by any certain events or anything that’s coming into the market.
Okay. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.
End of Q&A
There are no further questions at this time. I’ll turn the call back over to the presenters.
All right. Well, I’d like to thank everybody for being on the call and we are available for any follow-up questions from both investors and sell-side analysts. So again, thanks for your time today. Appreciate it.
This concludes today's conference call. You may now disconnect.
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