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Seritage: Tears And Fears Of A Bankrupt Sears-II


  • Seritage Growth Properties reported Q4-2017 results.
  • The stock dropped 4% on the release.
  • We dissect the numbers and point out why we would not buy this one.

Seritage Growth Properties (NYSE:SRG) is one of the rare REITs that we feel is massively overpriced in this market. Q4-2017 results came out last evening and did not do much to change our minds. Here is what we saw.

Adjusted EBITDA continued to drop off sharply

We generally ignore the earnings noise from REITs and focus on Net Operating Income (NOI), Adjusted EBITDA and funds from operations (FFO). None of the three gave much cause for enthusiasm in SRG's case. Adjusted EBITDA was sharply lower.

Source: SRG Supplemental Information

For comparison this number was over $45 million in Q4 2016 and $34 million in Q3-2017. The almost 20% drop in one quarter played a role in FFO coming in much lower as well.

FFO dropped from $0.46/share in Q3-2017 to a rather abysmal $0.22/share in Q4-2017.

Sears Holdings (SHLD) still dictating the scene

While the Q4-2017 press release was filled with the company's view of accomplishments (completed redevelopments, sale to General Growth Properties (GGP), 4X uplift on rents on developments), one tiny point in Q3-2017 release essentially ran the numbers for Q4-2017.

It was not clear exactly when this happened, but unless it was on October 1st, Q4-2017 likely did to reflect the full brunt of these vacancies. So brutal has been the impact of SHLD's closings that Q4-2017 adjusted EBITDA is now 44% lower than Q4-2016 number and that is in spite of so many new projects being completed with large rent uplifts.

In January SHLD announced another 100 store closings. We compared the released list with SRG's properties in the 2016 SRG annual report and found a few matches. More keys will be handed in in the second quarter of this year making for one challenging environment.

Net debt to Adjusted EBITDA at over 9.5X

SRG has raised

This article was written by

Trapping Value profile picture

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Comments (55)

As of December 31, 2017, the Company had originated 63 wholly-owned projects since the Company’s inception. These projects represent an estimated total investment of $1,066.9 million, of which an estimated $801.7 million remains to be spent
------estimated $801.7 million remains to be spent--------------


Company’s inception 3 years ago
$1066 - $801 = $265 Million
$265M/ 3 = $88 Million per year

$88 Million a year is all, were did rest of $$'s go ?
($241.6 million is not sounding like a lot to me considering payday loans , property sale , share offering , and that does not include previous Mezzanine Loans )

801/88= 9 more years
inflation will double that $801 M to $1.5 B in 4 years
just because SHLD is not passing out any raises...does not mean the rest of the world stopped with them
Politics are making materials cheaper to right ?
no illegal work force .........cost are going up

---------originated 63 wholly-owned projects --------is all they have done in 3 years

SRG had to borrow, sell property , and issue shares to do that , and not go under themselves

the bulk of leases SRG has , is what they were given from SHLD

lets not confuse facts with B/S
Axius Holdings profile picture
any thoughts on the newly issued Preferred A trading below par ? yielding 8%...
fxfx profile picture
They do not need 800 million within a year. They can strectch things out and finance if from the increasing cash flows over the next few years.

Both the common and the prefs look like a pretty sweet deal here.
Since I do not buy the "yields will explode from here" nonsense, I started to accumulate the prefs here between 22 and 23$. 7.5-8 % yields will be great for the coming 10 years, far higher than what you get for very risky frackers' debt or for less risky, but also less yielding treasuries
Adam Levine-Weinberg CFA profile picture
All of the redevelopment projects that have been announced so far are supposed to be completed by the end of 2019. So Seritage definitely needs to raise capital, probably through some combination of asset sales and incremental debt.

That said, it seems likely that as SRG increases its rent from third parties, it would be able to take on significantly more debt than what it has now, so I'm not especially worried about this issue.
fxfx profile picture
Adam, I know that they are "supposed to". That is different from "must be" (come hell or high water). Imho there is no contractual obligation to complete all of them until that deadline.
Adam Levine-Weinberg CFA profile picture
Maybe not, but it would be a terrible idea to delay construction. The biggest and longest-term projects are the ones that will create the bulk of the extra rental income needed to improve cash flow.
Rgarga profile picture
A lot of noise here makes reading these reported numbers very confusing. So they have enough cash for redevelopment for basically 2018. They can either sell JVs or take loan against cash flows from properties that are going to be opened for business this year which are many. I must be missing something but the more I look at this, the more I agree with Adam above.

Fundamentally thesis makes sense. Rent for 4x the amount, and since ones costs do not go up proportionally, one may end up with much more 4x ffo. Question is whether there will be enough cash to do the redevelopment. I think so from what I see. Rest seems to be noise and accounting.

Either way, I may be biased as I am long for a year or so.
a link to MAC buying shares please (SEC , not opinion)

what are thoughts on this , think they might need a tad more than 200 to 300 M

"As of December 31, 2017, the Company had originated 63 wholly-owned projects since the Company’s inception. These projects represent an estimated total investment of $1,066.9 million, of which an estimated $801.7 million remains to be spent"

since inception they have spent $267 Million , but need $801 M more to get ghetto's that are promised done ?

serenecapital profile picture
As of December 31, 2017, the Company had $241.6 million of unrestricted cash and restricted cash of $175.7 million, the substantial majority of which was held in reserve accounts for redevelopment, re-leasing and operating expenses at the Company’s properties. The Company also had $55.0 million of permitted, but uncommitted, borrowing capacity under its $200.0 million unsecured term loan facility due December 31, 2018.

Series A Preferred Shares

During the fourth quarter, the Company issued 2,800,000 7.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares (the “Series A Preferred Shares”) in a public offering at $25.00 per share. The Company received net proceeds from the offering of approximately $66.7 million after deducting payment of the underwriting discount and offering expenses.

Unsecured Term Loan

During the fourth quarter, The Company refinanced its existing $200 million unsecured term loan facility with a new $200 million unsecured term loan facility (the “Unsecured Term Loan”). The previous facility was a delayed draw facility with a maturity of December 31, 2017, against which the Company had drawn $85 million against the total capacity of $200 million.

The lenders under the previous facility, which are entities controlled by ESL Investments, Inc., have maintained their funding of $85 million in the Unsecured Term Loan, and new, non-affiliated lender committed and funded an additional $60 million for a total of $145 million committed and funded at closing. Maximum total commitments under the Unsecured Term Loan are $200 million and the Company has the right to syndicate the remaining $55 million with existing or new lenders. Existing lenders are not obligated to make all or any portion of the incremental loans.
fxfx profile picture
They do not need 800 million within a year. They can strectch things out and finance if from the increasing cash flows over the next few years.

Both the common and the prefs look like a pretty sweet deal here.
Since I do not buy the "yields will explode from here" nonsense, I started to accumulate the prefs here between 22 and 23$. 7.5-8 % yields will be great for the coming 10 years, far higher than what you get for very risky frackers' debt or for less risky, but also less yielding treasuries
SRG's numbers are skewed because most of the redevelopment they did in the past 2 years was in unconsolidated joint ventures, so the increased revenues, cash flow, EBITDA, etc. from those efforts is not consolidated. This is why these numbers declined year over year even though they accomplished significant redevelopment and growth.

Some of these JV's were sold during the year ($60M of proceeds). This figure is arguably cash flow but is apples-to-oranges from FFO because it is non-recurring. But to ignore it is to ignore a major source of their profit and liquidity.

SRG was not very well capitalized by Eddie when it was spun and it has to pull itself up from its bootstraps, which means flipping its first few redevelopments to JV partners and raising more capital via preferred. Going forward they will likely retain more of their properties and we'll see FFO increasing.

There are a lot of moving parts but the way to evaluate the company is by how much they paid to acquire and redevelop each property, and what rents and sales proceeds they get, to see if they are successfully recycling capital, which I believe they are. If you think the stock is worth half of today's value you're in for a surprise.
Trapping Value profile picture
I did an analysis a few months back where I ran through their entire redevelopment list and used the high end of management ROI. I also assumed Sears would survive till 2027 and gently turnover properties as needed.
That produced a 11% compounded return.
I seriously doubt even that will ever happen.
I see a best case now for a 7-8% compounded return, which is really low in a market where many reits should deliver that with much less risk.
The thrust of your article is declining FFO, EBITDA etc with no explanation of the joint ventures and the role they play. Very misleading.
Trapping Value profile picture
The quarter over quarter decline has to do with Sears Vacating and not the JV sales which were completed previous quarter.
serenecapital profile picture
I think I read somewhere the seritage has identified 36 such properties for mixed use. I may have misread this. so I have to go back and search again but this will be significant not to mention the 4x releasing spreads
Bill Stoller profile picture
Hi Sraja, yes, you are correct on WEB buying in mid-$30s.

I was being lazy... :/ I went back and found one of my early articles on Seritage, where I estimated $35.25 per share.


However, SPG, GGP, and MAC did take down a chunk of shares at a better price point as part of the JV negotiated with Seritage.

Best, Bill
Bill Stoller profile picture
@Sraja, from my reply to rube123, above:

"Additionally, all three mall owners agreed to purchase Seritage common shares in private placements as part of the JV arrangement. By way of example, Simon purchased 1,125,760 Seritage shares at $29.58 per share as part of its JV agreement. In hindsight, each of these "insiders" bought shares at a very attractive price."

Best, Bill
bluescorpion0 profile picture
Reminds me of IBM. He bought, went up, then back down to and below his purchase price. Same pattern here almost. Has he lost it? If so, beware of owning Berkshire too!
serenecapital profile picture
Buffett's price was mid 30s. This analysis does not seem to include some of the densification potential in the portfolio.

see the following links


you read it correctly- 500+ apartments and then storefront.

there are many such properties within seritage. I think there are planned submissions in seattle etc.


yes we might need a 200-300M financing in the interim if (only if) sears bankrupts. but this is a gold mine.

Added more today..!
Trapping Value profile picture
What do you believe is the ultimate FFO/NOI potential of the whole portfolio?
Because I just don't seem them getting a self funding mode on it till maybe 2021 or later. So there is a lot of dilution between here and there.
serenecapital profile picture
I think you can JV these properties similar to the dallas model and get a lot of bang for your buck. Sears has 22M sqft currently which means seritage needs ~5M sqft to cover it completely. Sears will not close all stores even in bankruptcy and so my guess is another 1 year of development i.e 3M sqft. which should generate about 50M if rental income. so that will take 1 year and that should be 200M-300M at max to tide over if that. (construction opex etc)

Ultimate NOI potential is hard to say. these are just 3 properties out of the 230 total. My guess is even 10% for mixed use would be a big deal.

icing on the cake.
bluescorpion0 profile picture
That's why it would be great if they had 2019 or 2020 leap options on this stock, alas december of this year is all you're going to get.
Steve Ess profile picture
Does Warren Buffett still owns SRG shares? I am pretty sure he did a couple of years ago in the high 30's.

I think it was his personal account, not Berkshire, this is the only reason I look at this.
Trapping Value profile picture
I think he does from what I remember. This may still work out for people, just don't see the reward as particularly enticing for so much risk.
Bill Stoller profile picture
Steve, as I recall Mr. Buffett's basis is in the mid-to-high $20s per share. He can afford to wait.

SPG, MAC, GGP all got shares ~$28, as part of JV deal with Seritage, as I recall SPG sold out last year.

ESL owns the largest chunk of Seritage, and he isn't going to kill the upside potential, in my view.
" mid-to-high $20s per share. "
care to explain that ?

SRG has never seen mid $20's ...........$38 Plus is magic number
Steve Ess profile picture
<< If you annualize the Q4-2017 adjusted EBITDA of $27 million >>

Why? There was a loss of 16.5M on a joint venture sale.

Isn't that more of a one time item?
Trapping Value profile picture
Adjusted EBITDA adds the loss back, see figure 1.
RoseNose profile picture
I always thought this one to be a strange REIT.
SRG perhaps has only one goal -which might include the harvest of land assets and build better buildings or house better tenants within the communities.
It is one to watch...at least for me.
Thank you for your ideas-
Best :)) Rose.
Trapping Value profile picture
Thanks Rose.
This one baffles all, including the analysts who don't see why this is trading so high over NAV while every other REIT is below it.
PennyPlanSupporter profile picture
Back up the truck on the preferred shares and wait to buy SRG debt hand over fist when issued.

Inflation is coming on strong.
Trapping Value profile picture
Preferred's would be safer for sure and the yield is good.
Good luck.
Stock Market Mike profile picture
I like WPG more than SRG. They also have questionable quality assets, but they are managing to hold FFO relatively flat as they redevelop and transition, and the valuation is far lower. Debt levels have been dropping - they're closing in on < 6.0x

High leverage doesn't spook me during development - TCO also hovers close to 10x while significant developments are happening - but it does need to back off afterwards, and is something to watch.

Trapping Value profile picture
It will be a race to see whether they can get these out in time I think.
I mean if you think all Sears properties can be redeveloped for a big jump, both CBL and WPG at 2.5X and 4.5X AFFO pay you to take the risk while SRG at 40X is pricing a lot of goodness.
Adam Levine-Weinberg CFA profile picture
WPG is a much different animal, IMO. For one thing, it has about 10% of its rental income on expiring leases in each of the next several years. The trend has been big declines in lease rates on renewals -- or tenants simply closing up shop. That could lead to pretty rapid erosion of FFO, particularly in a downturn. SRG already has enough signed/not opened leases to drive substantial FFO growth by 2020 if SHLD shrinks slowly, or offset much of the lost income if SHLD accelerates lease terminations.

I would characterize SRG's real estate as running the gamut from junk to extremely high quality. WPG has a lot of junk without the benefit of the really top-notch properties that SRG has.
Trapping Value profile picture
That is where I strongly disagree. SRG's portfolio is above average but nothing like what the bulls make it out to be. The $17/rents should be a nice clue on that front. For comparison, WPG has an average $23 rent on its malls per sq ft. Also, look at their signed on tenant list, hardly awe inspiring.
Even Bruce Berkowitz pretty much said SHLD properties are identical to SRG properties overall.
But valuation has never mattered to this stock, so it might even go to $100 if SHLD goes under.
I don`t know but have you looked at the tables with current redevelopments in the latest press release? Most of the buildungs have just been completed or are completed in 2018 or 2019.
I think the current EBITDA and FFO numbers are just garbage and not something to base a valuation on. There is much too much going on with the redevelopments right now to make these numbers matter.
Trapping Value profile picture
I have looked and that is certainly possible. My concern stems from the fact that they have completed substantial developments and Sears revenue is sub 50%, and yet the numbers don't look too good.
Adam Levine-Weinberg CFA profile picture
I agree that there wasn't much in the Q4 report to change anyone's opinion of Seritage.

However, I don't agree with your characterization that SRG has completed "substantial developments". Of the redevelopments budgeted at $20 million-plus, SRG has only completed 1 out of 15 at this point. In the $10 million-$20 million bucket, it has completed 4 out of 24. By and large, the redevelopments that have been completed are smaller projects that naturally bring in less incremental revenue.

Over the course of 2017, annualized rent from SHLD fell by more than $45 million. Meanwhile, rent from in-place 3rd party leases rose by a little over $6 million. So obviously, the current financials look bad. But the SNO leases rose by more than $22 million.

Bottom line: SRG lost more than 30% of its rent from SHLD and signed leases during the year to make up more than 60% of that amount. That doesn't seem like a bad showing to me. And to the best of my knowledge, Seritage hasn't even begun leasing for the three premier properties it just started to redevelop (Santa Monica, Aventura, and San Diego).

If I had to guess, I would say that there will be sequential improvement in FFO during the first half of 2018. That sequential growth could slow or even potentially reverse in the back half of the year, depending on recapture/termination activity by SRG and SHLD. But many of the best properties aren't going to be ready until very late in 2019, so I don't think it's reasonable to expect sustained improvement in the financials until 2020.
Trapping Value profile picture
Hey Adam,
I think where I really differ from the bulls is how i view the portfolio, i see it as above average but not superlative and the FFO multiple/NAV value, which is superlative.
Timing matters here as an accelerated SHLD bankruptcy timeline will force SRG to sell its best properties or raise capital at unattractive prices.
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