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Regency Centers (REG) Beats on Q1 FFO: Will Stock Gain?

Regency Centers Corporation’s REG first-quarter 2016 funds from operations (“FFO”) of 86 cents per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 79 cents. Further, the results compared favorably with 74 cents reported in the year-ago quarter. Better-than-expected results were attributable to growth in same property net operating income (“SPNOI”). We expect the outperformance to lead to stock movement.

Total revenue for the quarter rose 6.6% year over year to around $149.6 million. Consolidated real estate revenues increased 5.8% year over year to $142.9 million. The Zacks Consensus Estimate was $145 million.

Behind the Headlines

During the quarter, Regency’s tally for new and renewal leasing transactions reached 309, spanning 1.16 million square feet of space. Moreover, Regency’s SPNOI, excluding termination fees, for its wholly owned properties plus its pro-rata share of co-investment partnerships climbed 4.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Rental rate growth for new leases was 50.0%, while the same for renewal leases was 10.3%. Same properties portfolio was 96.2% leased, denoting a 20 basis points (bps) increase year over year. Notably, all of the company’s properties were 95.8% leased, up 30 bps from the prior year-quarter.

Regency’s total pro-rata share of cash and cash equivalents were $33.3 million at the end of first-quarter 2016, down from $46.7 million at 2015 end. The company’s total outstanding debt was $1.84 billion, slightly down from $1.86 billion at the prior-year end.

Portfolio Activity

During the quarter, Regency sold three wholly owned properties and three co-investment properties for a total gross sales price of $78.3 million, with Regency’s share of dispositions being $38.6 million.

The company purchased Garden City Park on a wholly owned basis for $17.3 million. This unencumbered property is situated on Long Island and has scope for growth through redevelopment. Regency plans to start the refurbishment work within the next 60 days.

Moreover, at quarter end, the company had 23 properties in development or under redevelopment with combined, estimated costs of $236.6 million.

Outlook

Regency updated its guidance and now expects 2016 FFO per share in a range of $3.22–$3.28 against the prior outlook of $3.18–$3.24. The Zacks Consensus Estimate is currently pegged at $3.24.

Moreover, the company has revised its 2016 acquisition guidance to $17.3–$340.0 million from the prior range of $0–$18.0 million, on a pro-rata basis.

Dividend Update

On Apr 28, 2016, Regency’s board of directors announced a quarterly cash dividend of 50 cents per share on its common stock. The dividend will be paid on Jun 1 to shareholders of record as of May 18.

Our Take

Going forward, Regency’s focus on building a premium portfolio of grocery-anchored shopping centers augurs well. Such centers are usually necessity-driven and attract huge traffic. Also, the presence of a cluster of leading grocers will protect the company from market swings. Yet, stiff competition and an anticipated rise in interest rates pose concerns before the stock.

Regency currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors interested in the retail REIT industry may consider stocks like The Macerich Company MAC, Equinix, Inc. EQIX and STORE Capital Corporation STOR. Each of these stocks carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Note: FFO, a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs, is obtained after adding depreciation and amortization and other non-cash expenses to net income.

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