SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
☑ ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
☐ TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from _____ to _____
Commission file number 000-54691
PHILLIPS EDISON & COMPANY, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
|(State or other jurisdiction of|
incorporation or organization)
| || |
11501 Northlake Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio
|(Address of principal executive offices)||(Zip Code)|
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of each class||Trading Symbol(s)||Name of each exchange on which registered|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Common Stock, $0.01 par value per share
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes ☐ No ☑
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Yes ☐ No ☑
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☑ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☑ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer||☐|
|Non-accelerated filer||☑||Smaller reporting company||☐|
|Emerging growth company||☐|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ☐ No ☑
There is no established public market for the registrant’s shares of common stock. On May 6, 2020, the Board of Directors of the registrant approved an estimated value per share of the registrant’s common stock of $8.75 based substantially on the estimated market value of its portfolio of real estate properties as of March 31, 2020. Prior to May 6, 2020, the estimated value per share was $11.10. For a full description of the methodologies used to establish the estimated value per share, see “Part II, Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities - Market Information” of this filing on Form 10-K. As of June 30, 2020, the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, there were approximately 289.8 million shares of common stock held by non-affiliates.
As of March 1, 2021, there were approximately 280.7 million outstanding shares of common stock of the registrant.
Documents Incorporated by Reference: None
PHILLIPS EDISON & COMPANY, INC.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K of Phillips Edison & Company, Inc. (“we,” the “Company,” “our,” or “us”) other than historical facts may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (collectively with the Securities Act and the Exchange Act, the “Acts”). We intend for all such forward-looking statements to be covered by the applicable safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements contained in the Acts. Such forward-looking statements generally can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “can,” “expect,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “believe,” “continue,” “possible,” “initiatives,” “focus,” “seek,” “objective,” “goal,” “strategy,” “plan,” “potential,” “potentially,” “preparing,” “projected,” “future,” “long-term,” “once,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “might,” “uncertainty,” or other similar words. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date this report is filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Such statements include, but are not limited to, (a) statements about our focus, plans, strategies, initiatives, and prospects; (b) statements about the COVID-19 pandemic, including its duration and potential or expected impact on our tenants, our business, and our estimated value per share; (c) statements about a reverse stock split, our distributions, share repurchase program, and dividend reinvestment program; and (d) statements about our future results of operations, capital expenditures, and liquidity. Such statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected or anticipated, including, without limitation: (i) changes in national, regional, or local economic climates; (ii) local market conditions, including an oversupply of space in, or a reduction in demand for, properties similar to those in our portfolio; (iii) vacancies, changes in market rental rates, and the need to periodically repair, renovate, and re-let space; (iv) changes in interest rates and the availability of permanent mortgage financing; (v) competition from other available properties and the attractiveness of properties in our portfolio to our tenants; (vi) the financial stability of tenants, including the ability of tenants to pay rent; (vii) changes in tax, real estate, environmental, and zoning laws; (viii) the concentration of our portfolio in a limited number of industries, geographies, or investments; (ix) the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including on the demand for consumer goods and services and levels of consumer confidence in the safety of visiting shopping centers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; (x) the measures taken by federal, state, and local government agencies and tenants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including mandatory business shutdowns, “stay-at-home” orders and social distancing guidelines; (xi) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our tenants and their ability to pay rent on time or at all, or to renew their leases and, in the case of non-renewal, our ability to re-lease the space at the same or more favorable terms or at all; (xii) the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States; (xiii) the pace of recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic given the current severe economic contraction and increase in unemployment rates; (xiv) our ability to implement cost containment strategies; (xv) our and our tenants’ ability to obtain loans under government programs; (xvi) our ability to pay down, refinance, restructure, or extend our indebtedness as it becomes due; (xvii) to the extent we were seeking to dispose of properties in the near term, significantly greater uncertainty regarding our ability to do so at attractive prices or at all; (xviii) the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, results of operations, financial condition, and liquidity; (xix) supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and (xx) any of the other risks included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including those set forth in Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors. Therefore, such statements are not intended to be a guarantee of our performance in future periods.
Except as required by law, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this Form 10-K.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
All references to “Notes” throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K refer to the footnotes to the consolidated financial statements in “Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data”.
Phillips Edison & Company, Inc. (“we,” the “Company,” “PECO,” “our,” or “us”) is an internally-managed real estate investment trust (“REIT”) that is one of the nation’s largest owners and operators of grocery-anchored shopping centers. Additionally, we operate an investment management business providing property management and advisory services to third-party owned grocery-anchored real estate. Our portfolio primarily consists of well-occupied, grocery-anchored neighborhood and community shopping centers having a mix of national, regional, and local retailers providing necessity-based goods and services. Our locations in strong demographic markets throughout the United States provide omni-channel retailers with a solution for the last mile of delivery.
We were formed as a Maryland corporation in October 2009 and have elected to be taxed as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Substantially all of our business is conducted through Phillips Edison Grocery Center Operating Partnership I, L.P. (“Operating Partnership”), a Delaware limited partnership formed in December 2009. We are a limited partner of the Operating Partnership, and our wholly-owned subsidiary, Phillips Edison Grocery Center OP GP I LLC, is the sole general partner of the Operating Partnership. The majority of our revenues are lease revenues derived from our owned real estate investments. In October 2017, we internalized our management structure through the acquisition of Phillips Edison Limited Partnership (“PELP”).
In November 2018, we completed a merger (the “Merger”) with Phillips Edison Grocery Center REIT II, Inc. (“REIT II”), a public non-traded REIT that was advised and managed by us (see Note 4). In the same month, we also contributed or sold 17 properties in the formation of Grocery Retail Partners I LLC (“GRP I”), a joint venture with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (“Northwestern Mutual”); see Note 7 for more detail.
On October 31, 2019, we completed a merger with Phillips Edison Grocery Center REIT III, Inc. (“REIT III”), a public non-traded REIT that was advised and managed by us, in a transaction valued at approximately $71 million. This resulted in the acquisition of three properties, as well as a 10% equity interest in Grocery Retail Partners II LLC (“GRP II”), a joint venture with Northwestern Mutual that owns three properties. On October 1, 2020, GRP I acquired GRP II, and our ownership in the combined entity was adjusted to approximately 14%; see Notes 5 and 7 for more detail.
As of December 31, 2020, we wholly-owned 283 real estate properties. Additionally, we owned a 20% equity interest in Necessity Retail Partners (“NRP”), a joint venture with an affiliate of TPG Real Estate that owned five properties, and a 14% interest in GRP I, which owned 20 properties. In total, our managed portfolio of wholly-owned properties and those owned through our joint ventures comprises approximately 34.4 million square feet located in 31 states.
Business Objectives and Strategies
Our business objective is to own, operate, and manage well-occupied, grocery-anchored shopping centers, which generate cash flows, income growth, and capital appreciation to create value for, and continue paying distributions to, our stockholders. We seek to achieve this objective through our focus on core operations; strategic growth and portfolio management; and responsible balance sheet management. Altogether, our goal is to provide great grocery-anchored shopping experiences and improve our communities one center at a time.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, we implemented various initiatives to mitigate the negative impact on our operations. Although we continue to address challenges brought about by the pandemic, our overall business objectives and strategies remain principally unchanged.
Focus on Core Operations—We believe our focus on our operating fundamentals will continue to provide stability and ultimately generate growth in our portfolio and optimize returns for our stockholders.
•Property Management Services—We add value by overseeing all aspects of operations at our properties. Our property managers maintain a local presence in order to effectively manage costs while maintaining a pleasant, clean, and safe environment where retailers can be successful and customers can enjoy a great shopping experience. We utilize our centralized accounting, billing, and tax review platform to facilitate our daily operations.
•Leasing—Our national footprint of experienced leasing professionals is dedicated to (i) creating the optimal merchandising mix at our centers, (ii) increasing occupancy at our centers, (iii) maximizing rental income through capitalizing on below-market rent opportunities by means of increasing rents as leases expire, and (iv) executing leases with contractual rent increases. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our capital expenditures were prioritized in part to support new leasing activity.
Strategic Growth and Portfolio Management—Our goal is to identify growth opportunities within our portfolio of properties as well through the use of our existing management resources and knowledge.
•Development and Redevelopment—Our team of seasoned professionals identifies opportunities to unlock additional value at our properties through investments in our development and redevelopment program. Our strategies include outparcel development, footprint reconfiguration, anchor repositioning, and anchor expansion, among others. While our capital expenditures were prioritized in 2020 to support new leasing activity, we continue to look for development and redevelopment opportunities to increase the overall yield and value of our properties, which will allow us to generate higher returns for our stockholders while creating great grocery-anchored shopping center experiences.
•Investment Management—Our investment management business provides comprehensive real estate, asset management, and accounting and support services to third-party funds. Although the uncertainty surrounding the financial and real estate markets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the pace of joint venture and other growth opportunities, we believe that our investment management business will expand our platform and relationships while preserving our balance sheet and will afford us the opportunity to consider acquisitions in the future similar to what we have done historically.
Responsible Balance Sheet Management—Our strategy is to improve and monitor our leverage ratios and debt maturities and dispose of certain shopping centers in order to maximize our potential future valuation in the public equity markets. We believe this is a critical part of maintaining access to multiple forms of capital, including common stock, unsecured debt, bank debt, and mortgage debt, to maximize availability and minimize our overall cost of capital.
•Disposition Program—We are actively evaluating our portfolio for opportunities to dispose of assets that no longer meet our growth and investment objectives due to stabilization or perceived future risk. These dispositions provide us with capital to fund acquisitions, fund redevelopment opportunities at owned properties, and reduce our leverage.
•Debt Maturity Profile—We have prioritized maintaining an appropriately staggered debt maturity profile, which will position us for long-term growth. Our outstanding debt obligations are composed primarily of unsecured debt, including term loans and a revolving credit facility, and secured mortgage debt. Certain of our upcoming unsecured debt agreements include options to extend their maturities, which provide flexibility in managing refinancing through changing market conditions.
We are subject to significant competition in seeking real estate investments and tenants (whom we refer to as a “Neighbor” or our “Neighbors”). We compete with many third parties engaged in real estate investment activities including other REITs, specialty finance companies, savings and loan associations, banks, insurance companies, mutual funds, institutional investors, investment banking firms, hedge funds, and other persons. Some of these competitors, including larger REITs, have greater financial resources than we do and may potentially enjoy competitive advantages that primarily result from increased access to capital, lower cost of capital, and enhanced operating efficiencies. In addition to these entities, we also face competition from smaller landlords and companies at the local level in seeking Neighbors to occupy our shopping centers. This further increases the number of competitors we have and the type of competition that we face in seeking to execute on our business objectives and strategies.
Our principal business is the ownership and operation of community and neighborhood shopping centers. We do not distinguish our principal business or group our operations by geography or size for purposes of measuring performance. Accordingly, we have presented our results as a single reportable segment.
Compliance with various governmental regulations has an impact on our business, including our capital expenditures, earnings, and competitive position. The impact of these governmental regulations can be material to our business. We incur costs to monitor and take action to comply with governmental regulations that are applicable to our business, which include, among others: federal securities laws and regulations; REIT and other tax laws and regulations; environmental and health and safety laws and regulations; local zoning, usage and other regulations relating to real property; and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (“ADA”). See “Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors” of this filing on Form 10-K for a discussion of material risks to us (including those, to the extent material to our competitive position, relating to governmental regulations) and see “Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of this filing on Form 10-K, together with our consolidated financial statements and accompanying footnotes, for a discussion of material information relevant to an assessment of our financial condition and results of operations (including, to the extent material, the effects that compliance with governmental regulations may have upon our capital expenditures and earnings).
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately 300 associates located in 20 states across the country, with concentrations in our corporate offices in Cincinnati, Ohio; Park City, Utah; and Atlanta, Georgia. Approximately 55% of our workforce is female and 45% is male. Our senior leadership team is 19% female and 81% male, while manager roles and above are approximately 40% female and 60% male. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our overall turnover rate was 17%, with voluntary turnover being 10%.
Our human capital objectives include, as applicable, identifying, recruiting, retaining, developing, incentivizing, and integrating our existing and prospective employees. We provide associates with competitive salaries, bonuses, incentives, and opportunities for equity ownership. One unique aspect of our compensation philosophy is that each associate in the organization, regardless of level or tenure, has the opportunity for equity grants on an annual basis. During the year ended December 31, 2020, 100% of eligible associates received grants of service-based restricted stock units in the Company. Upon vesting, associates will receive actual shares of common stock, which we believe encourages our employees to think like owners of the Company.
We recognize the importance of the health, safety, and environmental well-being of our employees, and are committed to providing and maintaining a healthy work environment. Our 2020 all-associate engagement survey, which had an 89% participation rate, showed 84% overall engagement, and 91% of associates reported they felt proud to tell people where they work, compared to an 80% global average as reported by Qualtrics XM, while 93% of associates felt they could be successful at the Company. In 2020, we were named a top place to work by the Cincinnati Enquirer for the fourth year in a row. We also won special recognition each of the past four years, including being recognized for “clued-in senior management” in 2020.
Our strong culture and commitment to inclusion is reinforced by two associate-led business resource groups: PECO MORE (Multicultural Opportunities, Resources & Education), and PECO NOW (Networking Opportunities for Women). PECO MORE is
dedicated to furthering diversity and inclusion within the Company, the communities that we serve, and the commercial real estate industry. In June 2020, PECO MORE hosted “BEGIN” conversations, a series of 23 small group discussions, attended by approximately 50% of the workforce, designed to “begin” dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and equity. PECO MORE’s programming has focused on providing education, raising awareness, and hosting events around Veterans Day, the Chinese New Year, Black History Month, Pride Month, and Women’s History Month. PECO NOW’s mission is to provide leadership opportunities to women through advocacy, support, scholarship, and development. PECO NOW was recognized for excellence by the International Council of Shopping Centers in 2016.
“Always Keep Learning” is one of our core values. Each year, we sponsor an annual meeting that provides associates with the ability to hear directly from company leadership about our performance, goals, and strategy. We host external speakers to facilitate discussions on relevant industry topics, and educational roundtables are led by internal subject-matter experts. This annual learning event provides associates with the information needed to understand how their roles and responsibilities directly impact the Company’s performance and growth. Associates are also kept apprised of company information through town halls conducted throughout the year. While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted many planned learning opportunities in 2020, we focused on providing managers with skills-based training to coach their associates and navigate through tough conversations while addressing virtual team challenges. We look forward to returning to a regular learning cycle in 2021, adapted for the COVID-19 environment, with an inaugural virtual Core Values Week in February 2021.
Our “Beyond Benefits” wellness program focuses on our associates’ emotional, physical, and financial well-being. Together with an external partner, we offer a full wellness platform providing Health Savings Account incentive contributions for biometric screening results, preventive care, and activity-based items such as step counts, nutrition tracking, and workout activity minutes. To keep remote associates engaged during 2020, we held six wellness challenges where individuals and teams could earn incentive dollars for winning competitions that tracked steps, workout activity, and water consumption. Such efforts have facilitated a continued dedication to wellness and preventive care among our associates, and as a result, we were recognized by Healthiest Employers LLC as one of the “Healthiest Employers of Ohio” in 2020.
We are also committed to ensuring that the operations at all of our properties and corporate offices are conducted in a manner that safeguards the health and safety of employees, Neighbors, contractors, and members of the public who are either present at, or affected by, operations at these locations. This commitment increased in importance in 2020 due to the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we continue to work with all of our stakeholders to mitigate the pandemic’s impact.
In addition to the increased number of activity-based individual and team challenges, we maintained a proactive approach to all aspects of well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a specific focus on mental health, including offering virtual Meditation and Mindfulness sessions throughout the spring and summer of 2020. We also maintained an intranet page with information related to COVID-19, work-from-home tips, and services available to associates, such as multiple free virtual fitness app memberships and a mental health, meditation and mindfulness app. Our communications team sent out regular company-wide emails to keep associates connected with helpful practical information, as well as fun topics such as healthy recipes and photos of our associates’ at-home office spaces and new “co-workers.”
Our corporate headquarters, located at 11501 Northlake Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45249, is where we conduct a majority of our management, leasing, construction, and investment activities, as well as administrative functions such as accounting and finance. Additionally, we maintain two regional offices located in Atlanta, Georgia and Park City, Utah.
Access to Company Information
We electronically file our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, Proxy and Information statements, and all amendments to those reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SEC maintains an Internet site at www.sec.gov that contains the reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers, including ours that are filed electronically.
We make available, free of charge, the Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, and all amendments to those reports on our website, www.phillipsedison.com. These reports are available as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC. Also available on our website are (i) our Corporate Governance Guidelines, (ii) our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and (iii) our Whistleblower Policy. In the event of any changes to these documents, revised copies will be made available on our website. The contents of our website are not incorporated by reference.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
You should specifically consider the following material risks in addition to the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The occurrence of any of the following risks might have a material adverse effect on our business, operating results, financial condition, and cash flows. Additional risks and uncertainties not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial also may impair our business, operating results, financial condition, and cash flows.
Risks Related to Our Structure and an Investment in Us
Because no public trading market for our shares currently exists and our share repurchase program is limited, it is difficult for our stockholders to sell their shares and, if our stockholders are able to sell their shares, it may be at a discount to the public offering price at which stockholders originally purchased the shares.
There is no public trading market for our shares of common stock. Until our shares of common stock are listed on a stock exchange, if ever, stockholders may not sell their shares unless the buyer meets the applicable suitability and minimum purchase standards.
Under the share repurchase program (“SRP”), any shares repurchased will be at the lesser of $5.75 per share or the most recent estimated value per share (“EVPS”) of our common stock. Currently, standard repurchases under the SRP are suspended and repurchases are limited to those upon a stockholder’s qualifying death, disability, or determination of incompetence. In addition, we may choose to repurchase fewer shares than have been requested in any particular month to be repurchased under the SRP, or none at all, in our discretion at any time. We may repurchase fewer shares than have been requested to be repurchased due to lack of readily available funds because of adverse market conditions beyond our control, the need to maintain liquidity for our operations, or because we have determined that paying off our debt or investing in real property or other investments or other items is a better use of our capital than repurchasing our shares. The Board of Directors (“Board”) may modify, suspend, or terminate the SRP at any time upon 30 days’ notice. In addition, because we are not required to authorize the recommencement of a suspension of the SRP, including the currently suspended standard repurchases, within any specified period of time, we may effectively terminate the SRP, or a portion of it, by suspending it indefinitely. As a result, your ability to have your shares repurchased by us may be limited, and at times, you may not be able to liquidate your investment.
Therefore, it is difficult for our stockholders to sell their shares promptly or at all. If a stockholder is able to sell his or her shares, it may be at a discount to the EVPS and to the public offering price at which the stockholder originally purchased the shares. It is also likely that our shares would not be accepted as the primary collateral for a loan. Because of the illiquid nature of our shares, investors should purchase our shares only as a long-term investment and be prepared to hold them for an indefinite period of time.
The EVPS of our common stock is based on a number of assumptions that may not be accurate or complete and the methodology used to calculate the EVPS is also subject to a number of limitations.
On May 6, 2020, our Board decreased the EVPS of our common stock to $8.75 based substantially on the estimated market value of our portfolio of real estate properties and our third-party investment management business as of March 31, 2020. The decrease was primarily driven by the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our non-grocery Neighbors resulting from social distancing and “stay-at-home” guidelines and the uncertainty of the duration and full effect on the overall economy. We engaged a third-party valuation firm to provide a calculation of the range in EVPS of our common stock as of March 31, 2020, which reflected certain balance sheet assets and liabilities as of that date. Previously, our EVPS was $11.10, based substantially on the estimated market value of our portfolio of real estate properties and our third-party investment management business as of March 31, 2019. Our EVPS is based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that may not be accurate or complete. Different parties with different assumptions and estimates could derive a different EVPS, and this difference could be significant. The EVPS is not audited and does not represent a determination of the fair value of our assets or liabilities based on accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”), nor does it represent a liquidation value of our assets and liabilities, the price a third party would pay to acquire us, the price at which our shares of common stock would trade in secondary markets, or the amount at which our shares of common stock would trade on a national securities exchange.
Accordingly, we can give no assurance that, (i) our shares would trade at or near the EVPS if listed on a national securities exchange; (ii) a stockholder would be able to resell his or her shares at the EVPS; (iii) a stockholder would ultimately realize distributions per share equal to the EVPS upon a liquidation of our assets and settlement of our liabilities; (iv) a stockholder would receive an amount per share equal to the EVPS upon a sale of the Company; (v) a third party would offer the EVPS in an arm’s-length transaction to purchase all or substantially all of our shares of common stock; (vi) another independent third-party appraiser or third-party valuation firm would agree with our EVPS; or (vii) the methodologies used to calculate our EVPS would be acceptable to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) for use on customer account statements or that the EVPS will satisfy the applicable annual valuation requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).
Furthermore, we have not made any adjustments to the valuation of our EVPS for the impact of other transactions occurring subsequent to May 6, 2020, including, but not limited to, (i) acquisitions or dispositions of assets; (ii) the issuance of common stock under the DRIP; (iii) Net Operating Income (“NOI”) earned and dividends declared (see “Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Measures - Same-Center Net Operating Income” of this filing on Form 10-K for the calculation of NOI); (iv) the repurchase of shares; and (v) changes in leases, tenancy, or other business or operational changes. The value of our shares of common stock will fluctuate over time in response to developments related to individual real estate assets, the management of those assets, and changes in the real estate and finance markets. Because of, among other factors, the high concentration of our total assets in real estate and the number of shares of our common stock outstanding, changes in the value of individual real estate assets or changes in valuation assumptions could have a very significant impact on the value of our shares of common stock. The EVPS also does not take into account any disposition costs or fees for real estate properties, debt prepayment penalties that could apply upon the prepayment of certain of our debt obligations, or the impact of restrictions on the assumption of debt. Accordingly, the EVPS may or may not be an accurate reflection of the fair market value of our stockholders’ investments and will not likely represent the amount of net proceeds that would result from an immediate sale of our assets.
The actual value of shares that we repurchase under the SRP, or any future tender offer, may be substantially less than the price we are willing to pay under this program.
Under the SRP, we repurchase eligible shares at the lesser of $5.75 per share or the most recent EVPS. The price we pay is likely to differ from the price at which a stockholder could resell his or her shares or the price at which our shares would trade if listed on a national securities exchange. Thus, when we repurchase shares of our common stock, the repurchase may be dilutive to our remaining stockholders.
If we do not successfully implement a liquidity transaction, stockholders may have to hold their investment for an indefinite period.
There currently is no public trading market for shares of our common stock, and our charter does not contain a requirement to effect a liquidity event by a specific date. In the future, our Board may consider various forms of liquidity, each of which is referred to as a liquidity event, including, but not limited to, (i) the listing of shares of common stock on a national securities
exchange; (ii) the sale of all or substantially all of our assets; (iii) a sale or merger that would provide stockholders with cash and/or securities of a publicly traded company; or (iv) the dissolution of the Company. However, there can be no assurance that we will cause a liquidity event to occur. If we do not pursue a liquidity transaction, shares of our common stock may continue to be illiquid and stockholders may, for an indefinite period of time, be unable to easily convert their investment to cash and could suffer losses on their investments.
If we pay distributions from sources other than our cash flows from operations, we may not be able to sustain our distribution rate, we may have fewer funds available for investment in properties and other assets, and our stockholders’ overall returns may be reduced.
Our organizational documents permit us to pay distributions from any source without limit (other than those limits set forth under Maryland law). To the extent we fund distributions from borrowings, we will have fewer funds available for investment in real estate properties and other real estate-related assets, and our stockholders’ overall returns may be reduced. At times, we may need to borrow funds to pay distributions, which could increase the costs to operate our business. Furthermore, if we cannot cover our distributions with cash flows from operations, we may be unable to sustain our distribution rate.
We cannot assure stockholders that we will be able to continue paying distributions at the rate currently paid.
We intend to evaluate distributions on a monthly basis throughout 2021. It is possible that stockholders may not receive distributions equivalent to those previously paid by us for various reasons, including the following:
•we may not have enough cash to pay such distributions due to changes in our cash requirements, indebtedness, capital spending plans, operating cash flows, or financial position;
•decisions on whether, when, and in what amounts to make any future distributions will remain at all times entirely at the discretion of the Board, which reserves the right to change our distribution practices at any time and for any reason;
•our Board may elect to retain cash to maintain or improve our credit ratings; and
•the amount of distributions that our subsidiaries may distribute to us may be subject to restrictions imposed by state law, state regulators, and/or the terms of any current or future indebtedness that these subsidiaries may incur.
Stockholders have no contractual or other legal right to distributions that have not been authorized by the Board and declared by the Company.
We have agreed to nominate Mr. Jeffrey S. Edison, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, to our Board for each annual meeting through 2027.
As part of the transaction to acquire certain real estate assets and the third party investment management business of PELP in exchange for stock and cash (the “PELP transaction”), we agreed to nominate Mr. Jeffrey S. Edison to the Board for each annual meeting through 2027, subject to certain terminating events. As a result, it is possible that Mr. Edison may continue to be nominated as a director in circumstances when the independent directors would not otherwise have nominated or elected him.
The Operating Partnership’s limited partnership agreement grants certain rights and protections to the limited partners, which may prevent or delay a change of control transaction that might involve a premium price for our shares of common stock.
The Operating Partnership’s limited partnership agreement grants certain rights and protections to the limited partners, including granting them the right to consent to a change of control transaction. Furthermore, Mr. Edison currently has voting control over approximately 57% of the Operating Partnership’s limited partnership units (exclusive of those owned by us) and therefore could have a significant influence over votes on change of control transactions.
The tax protection agreement, during its term, could limit the Operating Partnership’s ability to sell or otherwise dispose of certain properties and may require the Operating Partnership to maintain certain debt levels that otherwise would not be required to operate its business.
We and the Operating Partnership entered into a tax protection agreement at the closing of the PELP transaction, pursuant to which if the Operating Partnership: (i) sells, exchanges, transfers, conveys or otherwise disposes of certain properties in a taxable transaction for a period of ten years commencing on the closing; or (ii) fails, prior to the expiration of such period, to maintain minimum levels of indebtedness that would be allocable to each protected partner for tax purposes or, alternatively, fails to offer such protected partners the opportunity to guarantee specific types of the Operating Partnership’s indebtedness in order to enable such partners to continue to defer certain tax liabilities, the Operating Partnership will indemnify each affected protected partner against certain resulting tax liabilities. Therefore, although it may be in the stockholders’ best interest for us to cause the Operating Partnership to sell, exchange, transfer, convey or otherwise dispose of one of these properties, it may be economically prohibitive for us to do so during the ten year protection period because of these indemnity obligations. Moreover, these obligations may require us to cause the Operating Partnership to maintain more or different indebtedness than we would otherwise require for our business. As a result, the tax protection agreement will, during its term, restrict our ability to take actions or make decisions that otherwise would be in our best interests.
If the fiduciary of an employee benefit plan subject to ERISA (such as a profit sharing, Section 401(k) or pension plan) or an owner of a retirement arrangement subject to Section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code (such as an individual retirement account) fails to meet the fiduciary and other standards under ERISA or the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) as a result of an investment in our stock, the fiduciary could be subject to penalties and other sanctions.
There are special considerations that apply to employee benefit plans subject to ERISA (such as profit sharing, Section 401(k) or pension plans) and other retirement plans or accounts subject to Section 4975 of the IRC (such as an individual retirement account or “IRA”) that are investing in shares of our common stock. Fiduciaries and IRA owners investing the assets of such a plan or account in our common stock should satisfy themselves that:
•the investment is consistent with their fiduciary and other obligations under ERISA and the IRC;
•the investment is made in accordance with the documents and instruments governing the plan or IRA, including the plan’s or account’s investment policy;
•the investment satisfies the prudence and diversification requirements of Sections 404(a)(1)(B) and 404(a)(1)(C) of ERISA and other applicable provisions of ERISA and the IRC;
•the investment in our shares, for which no public market currently exists, is consistent with the liquidity needs of the plan or IRA;
•the investment will not produce an unacceptable amount of “unrelated business taxable income” for the plan or IRA;
•our stockholders will be able to comply with the requirements under ERISA and the IRC to value the assets of the plan or IRA annually; and
•the investment will not constitute a prohibited transaction under Section 406 of ERISA or Section 4975 of the IRC.
Failure to satisfy the fiduciary standards of conduct and other applicable requirements of ERISA and the IRC may result in the imposition of civil and criminal penalties and could subject the fiduciary to claims for damages or for equitable remedies, including liability for investment losses, and if an investment in our shares constitutes a prohibited transaction under ERISA or the IRC, the fiduciary or IRA owner who authorized or directed the investment may be subject to the imposition of excise taxes with respect to the amount invested. In addition, the investment transaction must be undone. In the case of a prohibited transaction involving an IRA owner, the IRA may be disqualified as a tax-exempt account, and all of the assets of the IRA may be deemed distributed and subjected to tax. ERISA plan fiduciaries and IRA owners should consult with counsel before making an investment in our common stock.
If stockholders invested in our shares through an IRA or other retirement plan, they may be limited in their ability to withdraw required minimum distributions.
If stockholders established an IRA or other retirement plan through which they invested in our shares, federal law may require them to withdraw required minimum distributions (“RMDs”) from such plan in the future as they may not be able to have their shares repurchased at a time in which they need liquidity to satisfy the RMD requirements under their IRA or other retirement plan. A repurchase, if available, may be at a price that is less than the price at which the shares were initially purchased or the current EVPS. If stockholders fail to withdraw RMDs from their IRA or other retirement plan, they may be subject to certain tax penalties.
Risks Related to the Retail Industry
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had, and is expected to continue to have, a negative effect on our and our Neighbors’ businesses, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, and liquidity.
In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused, and is expected to continue to cause, significant disruptions to the United States and global economy and has contributed to significant volatility and negative pressure in financial markets. The global impact of the outbreak is continually evolving and, as additional cases of the virus are identified, many countries, including the United States, reacted by instituting quarantines, restrictions on travel, and/or mandatory closures of businesses. Certain states and cities, including where our properties are located, also reacted by instituting quarantines, restrictions on travel, “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” rules, restrictions on types of businesses that may continue to operate, and/or restrictions on the types of construction projects that may continue. In May 2020, many state and local governments began lifting, in whole or in part, the “stay-at-home” mandates, effectively removing or lessening the limitations on travel and allowing many businesses to reopen in full or limited capacity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our business and financial performance, and we expect this impact to continue. Our retail and service-based Neighbors depend on in-person interactions with their customers to generate unit-level profitability, and the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased, and may continue to decrease, customers’ willingness to frequent, and mandated “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders may prevent customers from frequenting our Neighbors’ businesses, which may result in their inability to maintain profitability and make timely rental payments to us under their leases or to otherwise seek lease modifications or to declare bankruptcy. At the peak of the pandemic-related closure activity, for our wholly-owned properties and those owned through our joint ventures, our temporary closures reached approximately 2,100 Neighbors, or 37% of all Neighbor spaces, totaling 27% of our annualized base rent (“ABR”) and 22% of our gross leasable area (“GLA”). As of March 8, 2021, 98% of our occupied Neighbor spaces, totaling 99% of our ABR and GLA, are open for business. Certain Neighbors remain temporarily closed, have since closed after reopening, are limiting the number of customers allowed in their stores, or have modified their operations in other ways that may impact their profitability, either as a result of government mandates or self-elected efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These actions could result in increased permanent store closings and could reduce the demand for leasing space in our shopping centers and result in a decline in average rental rates on expiring leases.
While most of our Neighbors have reopened, we cannot presently determine how many of the Neighbors that remain closed will reopen, or whether a portion of those that have reopened will be required by government mandates to temporarily close again or will encounter financial difficulties that require them to close permanently. We believe substantially all Neighbors,
including those that were required to temporarily close under governmental mandates, are contractually obligated to continue with their rent payments as documented in our lease agreements with them. However, we believe it is best to begin negotiation of relief only once a Neighbor has reopened and made payments toward rent and recovery charges accrued. As of March 8, 2021, inclusive of our prorated share of properties owned through our joint ventures, we have executed payment plans with our Neighbors agreeing to defer approximately $8.7 million in rent and related charges, and we granted rent abatements totaling approximately $4.2 million. These payment plans and rent abatements represented approximately 2% and 1% of portfolio ABR, respectively. The weighted-average remaining term over which we expect to receive payment on executed payment plans is approximately twelve months. We are in negotiations with additional Neighbors, which we believe will lead to more Neighbors repaying their past due charges. As of March 8, 2021, we have collected approximately 93% of rent and recoveries billed during the second quarter of 2020, approximately 95% of rent and recoveries billed during the third quarter, and over 95% of rent and recoveries billed during the fourth quarter. Further, as of March 8, 2021, our collections for January and February 2021 were approximately 94% in total. In the event of any default by a Neighbor under its lease agreement or relief agreement, we may not be able to fully recover, and/or may experience delays in recovering and additional costs in enforcing our rights as landlord to recover, amounts due to us under the terms of the lease agreement and/or relief agreement. Additionally, certain Neighbors have declared bankruptcy as a result of the effects of the pandemic. As of December 31, 2020, we have several Neighbors currently in bankruptcy proceedings who continue to occupy space in our centers where we have not yet received notice that the lease has been assumed or rejected, representing an exposure of less than 1% of our total ABR.
Moreover, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions intended to prevent and mitigate its spread, resulting consumer behavior, and the economic slowdown or recession could have additional adverse effects on our business, including with regards to:
•the ability and willingness of our Neighbors to renew their leases upon expiration, our ability to re-lease the properties on the same or better terms in the event of nonrenewal or in the event we exercise our right to replace an existing Neighbor, and obligations we may incur in connection with the replacement of an existing Neighbor, particularly in light of the adverse impact to the financial health of many retailers and service providers that has occurred and continues to occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant uncertainty as to when and the conditions under which certain potential Neighbors will be able to operate physical retail locations in the future;
•a potential sustained or permanent increase in online shopping instead of shopping at physical retail properties, thereby reducing demand for space in our shopping centers and possible related reductions in rent or increased costs to lease space;
•the adverse impact of current economic conditions on the market value of our real estate portfolio and our third-party investment management business, and consequently on the estimated value per share of our common stock;
•the adverse impact of the current economic conditions on our ability to effect a liquidity event at an attractive price or at all in the near term and for a potentially lengthy period of time;
•the financial impact and continued economic uncertainty that could continue to negatively impact our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders and/or to repurchase shares;
•to the extent we were seeking to sell properties in the near term, significantly greater uncertainty regarding our ability to do so at attractive prices or at all;
•anticipated returns from development and redevelopment projects, which have been prioritized to support the reopening of our Neighbors and new leasing activity, or deferred if possible;
•the broader impact of the severe economic contraction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting increase in unemployment that has occurred in the short-term and its effect on consumer behavior, and negative consequences that will occur if these trends are not reversed in a timely way;
•state, local, or industry-initiated efforts, such as a rent freeze for Neighbors or a suspension of a landlord’s ability to enforce evictions, which may affect our ability to collect rent or enforce remedies for the failure to pay rent;
•severe disruption and instability in the global financial markets or deteriorations in credit and financing conditions, which could make it difficult for us to access debt and equity capital on attractive terms, or at all, and impact our ability to fund business operations and activities and repay liabilities on a timely basis;
•our ability to pay down, refinance, restructure, or extend our indebtedness as it becomes due, and our potential inability to comply with the financial covenants of our credit facility and other debt agreements, which could result in a default and potential acceleration of indebtedness and impact our ability to make additional borrowings under our credit facility or otherwise in the future; and
•the potential negative impact on the health of our personnel, particularly if a significant number of them and/or key personnel are impacted, and the potential impact of adaptations to our operations in order to protect our personnel, such as remote work arrangements, could introduce operational risk, including but not limited to cybersecurity risks, and could impair our ability to manage our business.
We temporarily suspended stockholder distributions beginning with the April 2020 distribution, and subsequently reinstated distributions beginning December 2020, in an effort to preserve cash due to current economic uncertainty, and we may choose to do the same in the future. Additionally, we may in the future choose to pay distributions in shares of our common stock rather than solely in cash, which may result in our stockholders having a tax liability with respect to such distributions that exceed the amount of cash received, if any.
While the rapid developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic preclude any prediction as to its ultimate adverse impact, the current economic, political, and social environment presents material risks and uncertainties with respect to our and our Neighbors’ business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, liquidity, and ability to satisfy debt service obligations.
The continued shift in retail sales towards e-commerce may adversely affect our revenues and cash flows.
Retailers are increasingly affected by e-commerce and changes in customer buying habits, which have been further accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the delivery or curbside pick-up of items ordered online. Retailers are considering these e-commerce trends when making decisions regarding their brick and mortar stores and how they will compete and innovate in a rapidly changing e-commerce environment. Many retailers in our shopping centers provide services or sell goods that are unable to be performed online (such as haircuts, massages, and fitness centers) or that have historically been less likely to be purchased online (such as grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops); however, the continuing increase in e-commerce sales in all retail categories (including online orders for immediate delivery or pickup in store) may cause retailers to adjust the size or number of retail locations in the future or close stores. Our grocer Neighbors are incorporating e-commerce concepts through home delivery or curbside pickup, which could reduce foot traffic at our centers. This shift may adversely affect our occupancy and rental rates, which would affect our revenues and cash flows. Changes in shopping trends as a result of the growth in e-commerce may also affect the profitability of retailers that do not adapt to changes in market conditions. These conditions may adversely impact our results of operations and cash flows if we are unable to meet the needs of our Neighbors or if our Neighbors encounter financial difficulties as a result of changing market conditions. While we devote considerable effort and resources to analyze and respond to Neighbor trends, Neighbor and consumer preferences, and consumer spending patterns, we cannot predict with certainty what future Neighbors will want, what future retail spaces will look like, or how much revenue will be generated at traditional brick and mortar locations. If we are unable to anticipate and respond promptly to trends in the market (such as space for a drive through or curbside pickup), our occupancy levels and rental rates may decline.
Risks Related to Real Estate Investments and Operations
Adverse economic, regulatory, market, and real estate conditions may adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.
Our portfolio is predominantly comprised of neighborhood grocery-anchored shopping centers, and during the year ended December 31, 2020, our holdings in Florida and California accounted for 12.5% and 10.4%, respectively, of our ABR (including our wholly-owned portfolio as well as the prorated portion of properties owned through our joint ventures). Therefore, our performance is subject to risks associated with owning and operating neighborhood grocery-anchored shopping centers, and may be further subject to additional risk as a result of the geographic concentration noted above. Such risks include, but are not limited to: (i) changes in national, regional, and local economic climates or demographics; (ii) competition from other available properties and e-commerce, and the attractiveness of our properties to our Neighbors; (iii) increased competition for real estate assets targeted by our investment strategies; (iv) adverse local conditions, such as oversupply or reduction in demand for similar properties in an area and changes in real estate zoning laws that may reduce the desirability of real estate in an area; (v) vacancies, changes in market rental rates, and the need to periodically repair, renovate, and re-lease space; (vi) ongoing disruption and/or consolidation in the retail sector, the financial stability of our Neighbors and the overall financial condition of our Neighbors, including their ability to pay rent and expense reimbursements; (vii) increases in operating costs, including common area expenses, utilities, insurance and real estate taxes, which are relatively inflexible and generally do not decrease if revenue or occupancy decreases; (viii) increases in the costs to repair, renovate, and re-lease space; (ix) changes in interest rates and the availability of financing, which may render the sale or refinance of a property or loan difficult or unattractive; (x) earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, or other natural disasters, civil unrest, terrorist acts, or acts of war, which may result in uninsured or underinsured losses; (xi) epidemics, pandemics, or other widespread outbreaks or resulting public fear that disrupt the businesses of our Neighbors causing them to fail to pay rent on time or at all; and (xii) changes in laws and governmental regulations, including those governing usage, zoning, the environment, and taxes. These and other factors could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.
Our real estate assets may decline in value and be subject to significant impairment losses, which may reduce our net income.
Our real estate properties are carried at cost less depreciation unless circumstances indicate that the carrying value of these assets may not be recoverable. We routinely evaluate whether there are any impairment indicators, including property operating performance, property occupancy trends, and actual marketing or listing price of properties being targeted for disposition, such that the value of the real estate properties (including any related tangible or intangible assets or liabilities) may not be recoverable. If, through our evaluation, we determine that a given asset exhibits such indicator, we then compare the current carrying value of the asset to the estimated undiscounted cash flows that are directly associated with the use and ultimate disposition of the asset. Our estimated cash flows are based on several key assumptions, including rental rates, costs of Neighbor improvements, leasing commissions, anticipated holding periods, and assumptions regarding the residual value upon disposition, including the estimated exit capitalization rate. These key assumptions are subjective in nature and may differ materially from actual results. Changes in our disposition strategy or changes in the marketplace may alter the holding period of an asset or asset group, which may result in an impairment loss and such loss may be material to our financial condition or operating performance. To the extent that the carrying value of the asset exceeds the estimated undiscounted cash flows, an impairment loss is recognized equal to the excess of carrying value over fair value.
The fair value of real estate assets is subjective and is determined through the use of comparable sales information and other market data if available. These subjective assessments have a direct effect on our net income because recording an impairment charge results in an immediate negative adjustment to net income, which may be material. During the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, we incurred impairment charges of $2.4 million and $87.4 million, respectively, related to real estate assets currently under contract or actively marketed for sale at a disposition price that was less than the carrying value. We have recorded such impairment charges as we have been selling non-core assets to improve the quality of our portfolio. We continue to sell non-core assets and may potentially recognize impairments in future quarters. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that we will not record additional impairment charges in the future related to our assets.
Our revenues and cash flows will be affected by the success and economic viability of our anchor Neighbors.
Anchor Neighbors (a Neighbor occupying 10,000 or more square feet) occupy large stores in our shopping centers, pay a significant portion of the total rent at a property, and contribute to the success of other Neighbors by attracting shoppers to the property. Our revenues and cash flows may be adversely affected by the loss of revenues and additional costs in the event a significant anchor Neighbor: (i) becomes bankrupt or insolvent; (ii) experiences a downturn in its business; (iii) materially defaults on its lease; (iv) decides not to renew its lease as it expires; (v) renews its lease at lower rental rates and/or requires tenant improvements; or (vi) renews its lease but reduces its store size, which results in down-time and additional tenant improvement costs to us to re-lease the space. Some anchors have the right to vacate their space and may prevent us from re-tenanting by continuing to comply and pay rent in accordance with their lease agreement. Vacated anchor space, including space owned by the anchor, can reduce rental revenues generated by the shopping center in other spaces because of the loss of the departed anchor's customer drawing power. In the event that we are unable to re-lease the vacated space to a new anchor Neighbor in such situations, we may incur additional expenses in order to re-model the space to be able to re-lease the space to more than one Neighbor.
If a significant Neighbor vacates a property, co-tenancy clauses in select lease contracts may allow other Neighbors to modify or terminate their rent or lease obligations. Co-tenancy clauses have several variants: they may allow a Neighbor to postpone a store opening if certain other Neighbors fail to open their stores; they may allow a Neighbor to close its store prior to lease expiration if another Neighbor closes its store prior to lease expiration; or they may allow a Neighbor to pay reduced levels of rent until a certain number of Neighbors open their stores within the same shopping center.
The leases of some anchor Neighbors may permit the anchor Neighbor to transfer its lease to another retailer. The transfer to a new anchor Neighbor could cause customer traffic in the retail center to decrease and thereby reduce the income generated by that retail center. A lease transfer to a new anchor Neighbor could also allow other Neighbors to make reduced rental payments or to terminate their leases.
A significant percentage of our revenues is derived from non-anchor Neighbors, and our net income and ability to make distributions to stockholders may be adversely affected if these Neighbors are not successful.
A significant percentage of our revenues is derived from non-anchor Neighbors. Such Neighbors may be more vulnerable to negative economic conditions as they have more limited resources than anchor Neighbors. Significant Neighbor distress across our portfolio could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows. A property may incur vacancies either by the expiration of a Neighbor lease, the continued default of a Neighbor under its lease, or the early termination of a lease by a Neighbor. If vacancies continue for a long period of time, we may suffer reduced revenues resulting in less cash available to distribute to stockholders. In order to maintain Neighbors, we may have to offer inducements, such as free rent and tenant improvements, to compete for attractive Neighbors. If we are unable to attract the right type or mix of non-anchor Neighbors into our shopping centers, our revenues and cash flows may be adversely affected. In addition, if we are unable to attract additional or replacement Neighbors, the resale value of the property could be diminished, even below our cost to acquire the property, because the market value of a particular property depends principally upon the value of the cash flow generated by the leases associated with that property. Such a reduction on the resale value of a property could also reduce the value of our stockholders’ investments.
We face considerable competition in the leasing market and may be unable to renew leases or re-lease space as leases expire. Consequently, we may be required to make rent or other concessions and/or incur significant capital expenditures to retain and attract Neighbors, which could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.
There are numerous shopping venues, including other shopping centers and e-commerce, that compete with our portfolio in attracting and retaining retailers. This competition may hinder our ability to attract and retain Neighbors, leading to increased vacancy rates, reduced rents, and/or increased capital investments. For leases that renew, rental rates upon renewal may be lower than current rates. For those leases that do not renew, we may not be able to promptly re-lease the space on favorable terms or with reasonable capital investments. In these situations, our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows could be adversely affected. See “Part I, Item 2. Properties” of this filing on Form 10-K for information regarding scheduled lease expirations and leases renewed subsequent to December 31, 2020 and the ABR of new leases signed during 2020.
We may be unable to sell properties when desired, at an attractive price, or at all, and the sale of a property could cause significant income tax payments.
Our properties, including related tangible and intangible assets, represent the majority of our total consolidated assets and they may not be readily convertible to cash. As a result, our ability to sell one or more of our properties, including properties held in joint ventures, in response to changes in economic, industry, or other conditions, may be limited. The real estate market is affected by many factors, such as general economic conditions, availability and terms of financing, interest rates and other factors, including supply and demand for space, that are beyond our control. There may be less demand for lower quality properties that we have identified for ultimate disposition in markets with uncertain economic or retail environments, and where buyers are more reliant on the availability of third party mortgage financing. If we want to sell a property, we can provide no assurance that we will be able to dispose of it in the desired time period or at all, or that the sales price of a property will be attractive at the relevant time or even exceed the carrying value of our investment. Moreover, if a property is mortgaged, we may not be able to obtain a release of the lien on that property without the payment of a substantial prepayment penalty, which may restrict our ability to dispose of the property, even though the sale might otherwise be desirable.
Some of our properties have a low tax basis, which may result in a taxable gain on sale. We intend to utilize tax-deferred exchanges under Section 1031 of the IRC to mitigate taxable income (“Section 1031 Exchanges”); however, there can be no assurance that we will identify exchange properties that meet our investment objectives for acquisitions. In the event that we do not utilize Section 1031 Exchanges, we may be required to distribute the gain proceeds to stockholders or pay income tax, which may reduce our cash flows available to fund our commitments and distributions to stockholders. Moreover, it is possible that future legislation could be enacted that could modify or repeal the laws with respect to Section 1031 Exchanges, which
could make it more difficult or impossible for us to dispose of properties on a tax-deferred basis. The current administration has also indicated its intention to modify the laws with respect to Section 1031 Exchanges in a manner that could make it more difficult or impossible for us to dispose of properties on a tax-deferred basis.
We may be unable to collect balances due from Neighbors in bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy or insolvency of a significant Neighbor or a number of smaller Neighbors may adversely affect our financial condition and our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders. Generally, under bankruptcy law, a debtor Neighbor has the legal right to reject any or all of their leases and close related stores. If the Neighbor rejects the lease, we will have a claim against the Neighbor’s bankruptcy estate. Although rent owing for the period between filing for bankruptcy and rejection of the lease may be afforded administrative expense priority and paid in full, pre-bankruptcy arrears and amounts owing under the remaining term of the lease will be afforded general unsecured claim status (absent collateral securing the claim). General unsecured claims are the last claims paid in a bankruptcy, and, therefore, funds may not be available to pay such claims in full. Moreover, amounts owing under the remaining term of the lease will be capped. As a result, it is likely that we would recover substantially less than the full value of any unsecured claims we hold. Additionally, we may incur significant expense to recover our claim and to re-lease the vacated space. In the event that a Neighbor with a significant number of leases in our shopping centers files bankruptcy and rejects its leases, we may experience a significant reduction in our revenues and may not be able to collect all pre-petition amounts owed by the bankrupt Neighbor.
Long-term leases with our Neighbors may not result in fair value over time.
From time to time, we enter into long-term leases with our shopping center Neighbors. Long-term leases do not typically allow for significant changes in rental payments and do not expire in the near term. If we do not accurately judge the potential for increases in market rental rates when negotiating these long-term leases, significant increases in future property operating costs could result in receiving less than fair value from these leases, which would adversely affect our revenues and the funds available for distributions to stockholders.
We may be restricted from re-leasing space to certain Neighbors at our particular shopping centers.
Some of our leases contain provisions that give a specific Neighbor the exclusive right to sell particular types of goods or services within that shopping center. These provisions may limit the number and types of prospective Neighbors to which we are able to lease space in a particular shopping center, which may result in increased costs to find a permissible Neighbor and decreased revenues if one or more spaces sit vacant or we have to accept lower rental rates or a less qualified Neighbor to fill the space.
We face competition and other risks in pursuing acquisition opportunities that could increase the cost of such acquisitions and/or limit our ability to grow, and we may not be able to generate expected returns or successfully integrate completed acquisitions into our existing operations.
We continue to evaluate the market for acquisition opportunities, and we may acquire properties when we believe strategic opportunities exist. Our ability to acquire properties on favorable terms and successfully integrate, operate, reposition, or redevelop them is subject to several risks. We may be unable to acquire a desired property because of competition from other real estate investors, including from other well-capitalized REITs and institutional investment funds. Even if we are able to acquire a desired property, competition from such investors may significantly increase the purchase price. We may also abandon acquisition activities after expending significant resources to pursue such opportunities. Once we acquire new properties, these properties may not yield expected returns for several reasons, including: (i) failure to achieve expected occupancy and/or rent levels within the projected time frame, if at all; (ii) inability to successfully integrate new properties into existing operations; and (iii) exposure to fluctuations in the general economy, including due to the time lag between signing definitive documentation to acquire a new property and the closing of the acquisition. If any of these events occur, the cost of the acquisition may exceed initial estimates or the expected returns may not achieve those originally contemplated, which could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.
We share ownership of our joint ventures and do not have exclusive decision-making power, and as such, we are unable to ensure that our objectives will be pursued.
We have invested capital, and may invest additional capital, in joint ventures instead of owning directly. In these investments, we do not have exclusive decision-making power over the development, financing, leasing, management, and other aspects of these investments. As a result, the joint venture partners might have interests or goals that are inconsistent with ours, take action contrary to our interests, or otherwise impede our objectives. These activities are subject to the same risks as our investments in our wholly-owned properties. In addition, these investments and other future similar investments may involve risks that would not be present were a third party not involved, including the possibility that the joint venture partners might become bankrupt, suffer a deterioration in their creditworthiness, or fail to fund their share of required capital contributions. Conflicts arising between us and our partners may be difficult to manage and/or resolve and it could be difficult to manage or otherwise monitor the existing business arrangements.
In addition, joint venture arrangements may decrease our ability to manage risk and implicate additional risks, such as: (i) potentially inferior financial capacity, diverging business goals and strategies and the need for our venture partners’ continued cooperation; (ii) our inability to take actions with respect to the joint ventures’ activities that we believe are favorable to us if our joint venture partners do not agree; (iii) our inability to control the legal entities that have title to the real estate associated with the joint ventures; (iv) our lenders may not be easily able to sell our joint venture assets and investments or may view them less favorably as collateral, which could negatively affect our liquidity and capital resources; (v) our joint venture partners can take actions that we may not be able to anticipate or prevent, which could result in negative impacts on our debt and equity; and (vi) our joint venture partners’ business decisions or other actions or omissions may result in harm to our reputation or adversely affect the value of our investments.
If we set aside insufficient capital reserves, we may be required to defer necessary capital improvements.
If we do not have enough reserves for capital to supply needed funds for capital improvements throughout the life of the investment in a property and there is insufficient cash available from our operations, we may be required to defer necessary improvements to a property, which may cause that property to suffer from a greater risk of obsolescence or a decline in value, or a greater risk of decreased cash flow as a result of fewer potential Neighbors being attracted to the property. If this happens, we may not be able to maintain projected rental rates for affected properties, and our results of operations may be negatively affected.
We actively reinvest in our portfolio in the form of development and redevelopment projects, which have inherent risks that could adversely affect our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.
We actively pursue opportunities for outparcel development and existing property redevelopment. Development and redevelopment activities require various government and other approvals for entitlements and any delay in or failure to receive such approvals may significantly delay this process or prevent us from recovering our investment. We may not recover our investment in development or redevelopment projects. We are subject to other risks associated with these activities, including the following risks:
•we may be unable to lease developments and redevelopments to full occupancy on a timely basis;
•the occupancy rates and rents of a completed project may not be sufficient to make the project profitable;
•actual costs of a project may exceed original estimates, possibly making the project unprofitable;
•delays in the development or construction process may increase our costs;
•construction cost increases may reduce investment returns on development and redevelopment opportunities;
•we may abandon redevelopment opportunities and lose our investment due to adverse market conditions;
•the size of our development and redevelopment pipeline may strain our labor or capital capacity to complete projects within targeted timelines and may reduce our investment returns;
•a reduction in the demand for new retail space may reduce our future development and redevelopment activities, which in turn may reduce our net operating income; and/or
•changes in the level of future development activity may adversely impact our results from operations by reducing the amount of internal general overhead costs that may be capitalized.
If we fail to reinvest in our portfolio or maintain its attractiveness to retailers and consumers, if our capital improvements are not successful, or if retailers or consumers perceive that shopping at other venues (including e-commerce) is more convenient, cost-effective, or otherwise more compelling, our financial condition, operating results and cash flows could be adversely affected.
Uninsured losses relating to real property or excessively expensive premiums for insurance coverage could reduce our cash flows and the return on our stockholders’ investments.
We maintain insurance coverage with third-party carriers who provide a portion of the coverage of potential losses, including commercial general liability, fire, flood, extended coverage and rental loss insurance on all of our properties. We currently self-insure a portion of our commercial insurance deductible risk through our captive insurance company. To the extent that our captive insurance company is unable to bear that risk, we may be required to fund additional capital to our captive insurance company or we may be required to bear that loss. As a result, our operating results may be adversely affected.
There are some types of losses, generally catastrophic in nature, such as losses due to wars, acts of terrorism, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, pollution or environmental matters, that are uninsurable or not economically insurable, or may be insured subject to limitations, such as large deductibles or sublimits. Insurance risks associated with potential acts of terrorism could sharply increase the premiums that we pay for coverage against property and casualty claims. Additionally, mortgage lenders in some cases insist that commercial property owners purchase coverage against terrorism as a condition for providing mortgage loans. Such insurance policies may not be available at reasonable costs, if at all, which could inhibit our ability to finance or refinance our properties. In such instances, we may be required to provide other financial support, either through financial assurances or self-insurance, to cover potential losses. We may not have adequate, or any, coverage for such losses. Changes in the cost or availability of insurance could expose us to uninsured casualty losses. If any of our properties incur a casualty loss that is not fully insured, the value of our assets will be reduced by any such uninsured loss, which may reduce the value of stockholders’ investments. In addition, other than any working capital reserve or other reserves we may establish, we have no source of funding to repair or reconstruct any uninsured property. Also, to the extent we must pay unexpectedly large amounts for insurance, we could suffer reduced earnings that would result in lower distributions to stockholders.
Climate change may adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition, and cash flows.
Climate change, including the impact of global warming, creates physical and financial risk. Physical risks from climate change include an increase in sea level and changes in weather conditions, such as an increase in storm intensity and severity of weather (e.g. floods, tornadoes, or hurricanes) and extreme temperatures. The occurrence of one or more natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, and earthquakes (whether or not caused by climate change), could cause considerable damage to our properties, disrupt our operations and negatively affect our financial performance. To the extent any of these events result in significant damage to or closure of one or more of our shopping centers, our operations and financial performance could be adversely affected through lost Neighbors and an inability to lease or re‑lease the space. In addition, these events could result in significant expenses to restore or remediate a property, increases in fuel or other energy costs or a fuel shortage, and increases in the costs of (or making unavailable) insurance on favorable terms if they result in significant loss of property or other insurable damage. In addition, compliance with new or more stringent laws or regulations or stricter interpretations of existing laws may require material expenditures by us. For example, various federal, state, and regional laws and regulations have been implemented or are under consideration to mitigate the effects of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Among other things, “green” building codes may seek to reduce
emissions through the imposition of standards for design, construction materials, water and energy usage and efficiency, and waste management. Such codes could require us to make improvements to our existing properties, increase the costs of maintaining or improving our existing properties or developing new properties, or increase taxes and fees assessed on us or our properties.
As an owner and/or operator of real estate, we could become subject to liability for environmental violations, regardless of whether we caused such violations, and our efforts to identify environmental liabilities may not be successful.
We could become subject to liability in the form of fines or damages for noncompliance with environmental laws and regulations. These laws and regulations generally govern wastewater discharges; air emissions; the operation and removal of underground and above-ground storage tanks; the use, storage, treatment, transportation and disposal of solid hazardous materials; the remediation of contaminated property associated with the disposal of solid and hazardous materials; and other health and safety-related concerns. U.S. federal, state, and local laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment may require us, as a current or previous owner or operator of real property, to investigate and clean up hazardous or toxic substances or petroleum product releases at a property or at impacted neighboring properties. Some of these laws and regulations may impose joint and several liability on tenants, owners, or operators for the costs of investigation or remediation of contaminated properties, regardless of fault or the legality of the original disposal. Under various federal, state, and local environmental laws, ordinances, and regulations, a current or former owner or operator of real property may be liable for the cost to remove or remediate hazardous or toxic substances, wastes, or petroleum products on, under, from, or in such property. These costs could be substantial and liability under these laws may attach whether or not the owner or manager knew of, or was responsible for, the presence of such contamination. Even if more than one person may have been responsible for the contamination, each liable party may be held entirely responsible for all of the clean-up costs incurred. We may be subject to regulatory action and may also be held liable to third parties for personal injury or property damage incurred by the parties in connection with any such laws and regulations or hazardous or toxic substances. The costs of investigation, removal or remediation of hazardous or toxic substances, and related liabilities, may be substantial and could materially and adversely affect us. The presence of hazardous or toxic substances, or the failure to remediate the related contamination, may also adversely affect our ability to sell, lease or redevelop a property or to borrow money using a property as collateral.
Although we believe that our portfolio is in substantial compliance with U.S. federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations regarding hazardous or toxic substances, this belief is based on limited testing. Nearly all of our properties have been subjected to Phase I or similar environmental audits. These environmental audits have not revealed, nor are we aware of, any environmental liability that we believe is reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on us. However, we cannot assure you that: (i) previous environmental studies with respect to the portfolio revealed all potential environmental liabilities; (ii) any previous owner, occupant or tenant of a property did not create any material environmental condition not known to us; (iii) the current environmental condition of the portfolio will not be affected by tenants and occupants, by the condition of nearby properties, or by other unrelated third parties; or (iv) future uses or conditions (including, without limitation, changes in applicable environmental laws and regulations or the interpretation thereof) will not result in environmental liabilities.
Compliance or failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and fire, safety, and other regulations could result in substantial costs and may decrease cash available for stockholder distributions.
Our properties are or may become subject to the ADA which generally requires that all places of public accommodation comply with federal requirements related to access and use by disabled persons. Compliance with the ADA’s requirements could require the removal of access barriers and noncompliance may result in the imposition of injunctive relief, monetary penalties, or in some cases, an award of damages. While we attempt to acquire properties that are already in compliance with the ADA or place the burden of compliance on the seller or other third party, such as a tenant, we cannot assure stockholders that we will be able to acquire properties or allocate responsibilities in this manner. In addition, we are required to operate the properties in compliance with fire and safety regulations, building codes, and other land use regulations, as they may be adopted by governmental entities and become applicable to the properties. We may be required to make substantial capital expenditures to comply with these requirements, and these expenditures may reduce our net income and may have a material adverse effect on our ability to meet our financial obligations and make distributions to our stockholders.
We and our Neighbors face risks relating to cybersecurity attacks, which could cause loss of confidential information and other disruptions to business operations, and compliance with new laws and regulations regarding cybersecurity and privacy may result in substantial costs and may decrease cash available for distributions.
Our business is at risk from and may be adversely affected by cybersecurity attacks. These attacks could include attempts to gain unauthorized access to our data and/or computer systems to disrupt operations, corrupt data, or steal confidential information. Attacks can be both individual and highly organized attempts by very sophisticated hacking organizations. We may face such cybersecurity attacks through malware, computer viruses, attachments to e-mails, persons inside our organization or persons with access to systems inside our organization, and other significant disruptions of our information technology (IT) systems. The risk of a cybersecurity attack, including by computer hackers, foreign governments, and cyber terrorists, has generally increased as the number, intensity, and sophistication of attempted attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased. The techniques and sophistication used to conduct cyber attacks and breaches of IT systems, as well as the sources and targets of these attacks, change frequently and are often not recognized until such attacks are launched or have been in place for a period of time.
Our IT networks and related systems are essential to the operation of our business and our ability to perform day-to-day operations and, in some cases, may be critical to the operations of certain of our Neighbors. In addition to our own IT systems, we also depend on third parties to provide IT services relating to several key business functions, such as administration, accounting, communications, document management and storage, human resources, payroll, tax, investor relations, and certain finance functions. Our IT systems and those provided by third parties may contain personal, financial, or other information that is entrusted to us by our Neighbors and employees, as well as proprietary PECO information and other
confidential information related to our business. We and such third parties employ a number of measures to prevent, detect, and mitigate these threats, including password protection, firewalls, backup servers, malware detection, intrusion sensors, threat monitoring, user training, and periodic penetration testing; however, there is no guarantee that such efforts will be successful in preventing a cybersecurity attack.
As our reliance on technology has increased, so have the risks posed to our systems, both internal and those we have outsourced. The primary risks that could directly result from the occurrence of a cyber incident include operational interruption, damage to our relationship with our Neighbors, and private data exposure. Our financial results and business operations may be negatively affected by such an incident or the resulting negative media attention. A cybersecurity attack could: (i) disrupt the proper functioning of our networks and systems and therefore our operations and/or those of certain of our Neighbors; (ii) compromise the confidential or proprietary information of our Neighbors, employees, and vendors, which others could use to compete against us or for disruptive, destructive, or otherwise harmful purposes and outcomes; (iii) result in our inability to maintain the building systems relied upon by our Neighbors for the efficient use of their leased space; (iv) require significant management attention and resources to remedy and damages that result; (v) result in misstated financial reports, violations of loan covenants and/or missed reporting deadlines; (vi) result in our inability to properly monitor our compliance with the rules and regulations regarding our qualification as a REIT; (vii) subject us to claims for breach of contract, damages, credits, penalties, or termination of leases or other agreements or relationships; (viii) cause reputational damage that adversely affects Neighbor, investor, and employee confidence in us, which could negatively affect our ability to attract and retain Neighbors, investors, and employees; (ix) result in significant remediation costs, some or all of which may not be recoverable from our insurance carriers; and (x) result in increases in the cost of obtaining insurance on favorable terms, or at all, if the attack results in significant insured losses. Such security breaches also could result in a violation of applicable federal and state privacy and other laws, and subject us to private consumer, business partner, or securities litigation and governmental investigations and proceedings, any of which could result in our exposure to material civil or criminal liability, and we may not be able to recover these expenses from our service providers, responsible parties, or insurance carriers. Similarly, our Neighbors rely extensively on IT systems to process transactions and manage their businesses and thus are also at risk from and may be adversely affected by cybersecurity attacks. An interruption in the business operations of our Neighbors or a deterioration in their reputation resulting from a cybersecurity attack, including unauthorized access to customers’ credit card data and other confidential information, could indirectly negatively affect our business and cause lost revenues. As of December 31, 2020, we have not had any material incidents involving cybersecurity attacks.
We could be subject to legal or regulatory proceedings that may adversely affect our cash flows and results of operations.
As an owner and operator of public shopping centers, from time to time, we are party to legal and regulatory proceedings that arise in the ordinary course of business. Due to the inherent uncertainties of litigation and regulatory proceedings, we cannot accurately predict the ultimate outcome of any such litigation or proceedings. We could experience an adverse effect to our cash flows, financial condition, and results of operations due to an unfavorable outcome.
Risks Related to Capital Recycling Strategy and Capital Structure
Higher market capitalization rates and lower NOI at our properties may adversely impact our ability to sell properties and fund developments and acquisitions, and may dilute earnings.
As part of our capital recycling strategy, we sell properties that no longer meet our growth and investment objectives due to stabilization or perceived future risk. These sales proceeds are used to fund the construction of new outparcel developments, redevelopments, expansions, and acquisitions, and to repay debt. An increase in market capitalization rates or a decline in NOI may cause a reduction in the value of properties identified for sale, which would have an adverse effect on the amount of cash generated. In order to meet the cash requirements of our capital recycling program, we may be required to sell more properties than initially planned, which may have a negative effect on our earnings. Additionally, the sale of properties resulting in significant tax gains may require higher distributions to our stockholders or payment of additional income taxes in order to maintain our REIT status. We intend to utilize Section 1031 Exchanges to mitigate taxable income, however there can be no assurance that we will identify exchange properties that meet our investment objectives for acquisitions.
We have substantial indebtedness, and we may need to incur additional indebtedness in the future; our debt financing could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
We have obtained, and are likely to continue to obtain, lines of credit, and other long-term financing that are secured by our properties and other assets. On December 31, 2020, we had indebtedness of $2.3 billion, which comprises $1.6 billion in unsecured debt, $0.4 billion in outstanding secured loan facilities, and $0.3 billion in mortgage loans and finance lease obligations. In connection with executing our business strategies, we expect to evaluate the possibility of additional acquisitions and strategic investments, and we may elect to finance these endeavors by incurring additional indebtedness. We may also incur mortgage debt on properties that we already own in order to obtain funds to acquire additional properties or make other capital investments. In addition, we may borrow as necessary or advisable to ensure that we maintain our qualification as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, including borrowings to satisfy the REIT requirement that we distribute at least 90% of our annual REIT taxable income to our stockholders (computed without regard to the dividends-paid deduction and excluding net capital gain). In connection with executing our business strategies, we expect to evaluate the possibility of additional acquisitions and strategic investments, and we may elect to finance these endeavors by incurring additional indebtedness. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to obtain any such borrowings on satisfactory terms.
High debt levels could have material adverse consequences for the Company, including hindering our ability to adjust to changing market, industry, or economic conditions; limiting our ability to access the capital markets to refinance maturing debt or to fund acquisitions or emerging businesses; requiring the use of a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations for the payment of principal and interest on our debt, thereby limiting the amount of free cash flow available for future operations, acquisitions, distributions, stock repurchases, or other uses; making us more vulnerable to economic or industry
downturns, including interest rate increases; and placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to less leveraged competitors.
If we mortgage a property and there is a shortfall between the cash flows from that property and the cash flows needed to service mortgage debt on that property, then the amount of cash available for distributions to stockholders may be reduced. In addition, incurring mortgage debt increases the risk of loss of a property since defaults on indebtedness secured by a property may result in lenders initiating foreclosure actions. If any mortgages contain cross-collateralization or cross-default provisions, a default on a single property could affect multiple properties. Additionally, we may give full or partial guarantees to lenders of mortgage debt on behalf of the entities that own our properties. When we give a guaranty on behalf of an entity that owns one of our properties, we will be responsible to the lender for satisfaction of the debt if it is not paid by such entity. Currently, we are a limited guarantor on a mortgage loan for each of our NRP and GRP I joint ventures. In each case, our guarantee is limited to being the non-recourse carveout guarantor and the environmental indemnitor.
We may also obtain recourse debt to finance our acquisitions and meet our REIT distribution requirements. If we have insufficient income to service our recourse debt obligations, our lenders could institute proceedings against us to foreclose upon our assets.
We may not be able to access financing or refinancing sources on favorable terms, or at all.
We may finance our assets over the long-term through a variety of means, including repurchase agreements, credit facilities, issuance of commercial mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, and other structured financings. Our ability to execute this strategy will depend on various conditions in the markets for financing in this manner that are beyond our control, including lack of liquidity and greater credit spreads. We cannot be certain that these markets will remain an efficient source of long-term financing for our assets. If our strategy is not viable, we will have to find alternative forms of long-term financing for our assets, as secured revolving credit facilities and repurchase facilities may not accommodate long-term financing. This could subject us to more recourse indebtedness and the risk that debt service on less efficient forms of financing would require a larger portion of our cash flows, thereby reducing cash available for distribution to our stockholders and funds available for operations as well as for future business opportunities.
Covenants in our loan agreements may restrict our operations and adversely affect our financial condition.
When providing financing, a lender may impose restrictions on us that affect our distribution and operating policies and our ability to incur additional debt. Loan agreements into which we enter may contain covenants that limit our ability to further mortgage a property or discontinue insurance coverage. In addition, loan documents may limit our ability to replace a property’s property manager or terminate certain operating or lease agreements related to a property. These or other limitations would decrease our operating flexibility and our ability to achieve our operating objectives, which may adversely affect our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
We have acquired, and may continue to acquire or finance, properties with lock-out provisions, which may prohibit us from selling a property or may require us to maintain specified debt levels for a period of years on some properties.
A lock-out provision is a provision that prohibits the prepayment of a loan during a specified period of time. Lock-out provisions may include terms that provide strong financial disincentives for borrowers to prepay their outstanding loan balance and exist in order to protect the yield expectations of lenders. We currently do not own any properties with loans that are subject to lock-out provisions prohibiting prepayment. We may acquire additional properties in the future subject to such provisions. Lock-out provisions could materially restrict us from selling or otherwise disposing of or refinancing properties when we may desire to do so. Lock-out provisions may prohibit us from reducing the outstanding indebtedness with respect to any properties, refinancing such indebtedness prior to or at maturity, or increasing the amount of indebtedness with respect to such properties. Lock-out provisions could impair our ability to take other actions during the lock-out period that could be in the best interests of our stockholders and, therefore, may have an adverse impact on the value of our shares relative to the value that would result if the lock-out provisions did not exist. In particular, lock-out provisions could preclude us from participating in major transactions that could result in a disposition of our assets or a change in control even though that disposition or change in control might be in the best interests of our stockholders.
The phase-out, replacement, or unavailability of LIBOR could affect interest rates for a significant portion of our indebtedness, as well as our ability to obtain future debt financing on favorable terms.
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately $1.6 billion of indebtedness tied to the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”), $1.0 billion of which was fixed through the use of interest rate swaps. Additionally, we have a revolving credit facility tied to LIBOR with a capacity of $500 million, on which we had no outstanding balance (excluding letters of credit in an amount of $9.6 million) as of December 31, 2020. In July 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (the regulatory authority over LIBOR) stated that it would phase out LIBOR as a benchmark. In November 2020, the Federal Reserve Board announced that banks must stop writing new U.S. dollar (“USD”) LIBOR contracts by the end of 2021 and that, no later than June 30, 2023, when USD LIBOR will no longer be published, market participants should amend legacy contracts to use the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) or another alternative reference rate. If a published USD LIBOR rate is unavailable after 2021, the interest rates on our indebtedness that is indexed to LIBOR will be determined using alternative methods, any of which may result in interest obligations that are more than, or do not otherwise correlate over time with, the payments that would have been made on such debt if USD LIBOR was available in its current form. Additionally, the phase-out of USD LIBOR and the transition to SOFR or another alternative reference rate may be disruptive to financial markets. Such disruption could have a material adverse effect on our financing costs, and as a result, on our financial condition, operating results, and cash flows.
Increases in interest rates could increase the amount of our loan payments and adversely affect our ability to pay distributions to our stockholders.
Although a significant amount of our outstanding debt has fixed interest rates, we do borrow funds at variable interest rates under our credit facilities and term loans. As of December 31, 2020, 25.2% of our outstanding debt was variable rate debt. Increases in interest rates would increase our interest expense on any variable rate debt to the extent we have not hedged
our exposure to changes in interest rates. In addition, increases in interest rates will affect the terms under which we refinance our existing debt as it matures, to the extent we have not hedged our exposure to changes in interest rates, resulting in higher interest rates and increased interest expense. Either of these events would reduce our future earnings and cash flows, which may adversely affect our ability to service our debt and meet our other obligations and also may reduce the amount we are able to distribute to stockholders.
Hedging activity may expose us to risks, including the risks that a counterparty will not perform and that the hedge will not yield the economic benefits we anticipate, which may adversely affect us.
From time to time, we manage our exposure to interest rate volatility by using interest rate hedging arrangements that involve risk, such as the risk that counterparties may fail to honor their obligations under these arrangements, that these arrangements may not be effective in reducing our exposure to interest rate changes, and that we may be required to pay the counterparty if interest rates decrease in the future below the hedged amount. There can be no assurance that our hedging arrangements will qualify for hedge accounting or that our hedging activities will have the desired beneficial impact on our results of operations. Should we desire to terminate a hedging agreement, there may be significant costs and cash requirements involved to fulfill our obligations under the hedging agreement. Failure to hedge effectively against interest rate changes may adversely affect our results of operations.
Risks Related to Corporate Organization and Structure
Our stockholders have limited control over changes in our policies and operations, which increases the uncertainty and risks our stockholders face.
Our Board determines our major policies, including our policies regarding financing, growth, debt capitalization, REIT qualification and distributions. Our Board may amend or revise these and other policies without a vote of the stockholders. Under the Maryland General Corporation Law (“MGCL”) and our charter, our stockholders have a right to vote only on limited matters. Our Board’s broad discretion in setting policies and our stockholders’ inability to exert control over those policies increases the uncertainty and risks our stockholders face.
Our charter limits the number of shares a person may own, which may discourage a takeover that could otherwise result in a premium price to our stockholders.
Our charter, with certain exceptions, authorizes our directors to take such actions as are necessary and desirable to preserve our qualification as a REIT. To help us comply with the REIT ownership requirements of the IRC, among other purposes, our charter prohibits a person from directly or constructively owning more than 9.8% in value of our aggregate outstanding stock or more than 9.8% in value or number of shares, whichever is more restrictive, of our aggregate outstanding common stock, unless exempted by our Board. This restriction may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control of us, including an extraordinary transaction (such as a merger, tender offer or sale of all or substantially all of our assets) that might provide a premium price for holders of our common stock.
Our charter, bylaws and Maryland law contain terms that may discourage a third party from acquiring us in a manner that could result in a premium price to our stockholders.
Our charter, bylaws, and the MGCL contain provisions that may delay, defer, or prevent a transaction or a change of control that might involve a premium price for our common stock or that our stockholders otherwise believe to be in their best interest. Our charter permits our Board to classify or reclassify any unissued common stock or preferred stock and establish the preferences, conversion or other rights, voting powers, restrictions, limitations as to distributions, qualifications, and terms or conditions of redemption of any such stock. Thus, our Board could authorize the issuance of preferred stock with priority as to distributions and amounts payable upon liquidation over the rights of the holders of our common stock. In addition, the MGCL permits our Board, without stockholder approval and regardless of what is currently provided in our charter or bylaws, to implement certain takeover defenses, including adopting a classified board or increasing the vote required to remove a director. These and other provisions of our charter, bylaws, and Maryland law could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control, including an extraordinary transaction (such as a merger, tender offer, or sale of all or substantially all of our assets) that might provide a premium price to holders of our common stock.
Our rights and the rights of our stockholders to recover claims against our officers and directors are limited, which could reduce our stockholders’ and our recovery against them if they cause us to incur losses.
Maryland law provides that a director has no liability in that capacity if he or she performs his or her duties in good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the corporation’s best interests and with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would use under similar circumstances. Our charter, in the case of our directors and officers, requires us to indemnify our directors and officers to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law. Additionally, our charter limits the liability of our directors and officers for monetary damages to the maximum extent permitted under Maryland law. As a result, we and our stockholders may have more limited rights against our directors, officers, employees and agents than might otherwise exist under common law, which could reduce our stockholders’ and our recovery against them. In addition, we may be obligated to fund the defense costs incurred by our directors, officers, employees and agents in some cases which would decrease the cash otherwise available for distribution to stockholders.
Risks Related to Organization and Qualification as a REIT
If the Operating Partnership fails to qualify as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we would fail to qualify as a REIT and would suffer adverse consequences.
We believe that the Operating Partnership is organized and will be operated in a manner so as to be treated as a partnership, and not an association or publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. As a partnership, the Operating Partnership will not be subject to U.S. federal income tax on its income. Instead, each of its partners, including us, will be allocated that partner’s share of the Operating Partnership’s income. No assurance can be provided, however, that the Internal Revenue Service will not challenge the Operating Partnership’s status as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, or that a court would not sustain such a challenge. If the Internal Revenue Service were
successful in treating the Operating Partnership as an association or publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we would fail to meet the gross income tests and certain of the asset tests applicable to REITs and, accordingly, would cease to qualify as a REIT. Also, the failure of the Operating Partnership to qualify as a partnership would cause it to become subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax, which would reduce significantly the amount of its cash available for debt service and for distribution to its partners, including us.
The Operating Partnership has a carryover tax basis on certain of its assets as a result of the PELP transaction and the Merger, and the amount that we have to distribute to stockholders therefore may be higher.
As a result of each of the PELP transaction and the Merger, certain of the Operating Partnership’s properties have carryover tax bases that are lower than the fair market values of these properties at the time of the acquisition. As a result of this lower aggregate tax basis, the Operating Partnership will recognize higher taxable gain upon the sale of these assets, and the Operating Partnership will be entitled to lower depreciation deductions on these assets than if it had purchased these properties in taxable transactions at the time of the acquisition. Such lower depreciation deductions and increased gains on sales allocated to us generally will increase the amount of our required distribution under the REIT rules, and will decrease the portion of any distribution that otherwise would have been treated as a “return of capital” distribution.
We use taxable REIT subsidiaries, which may cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT.
To qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we hold, and plan to continue to hold, substantially all of our non-qualifying REIT assets and conduct certain of our non-qualifying REIT income activities in or through one or more taxable REIT subsidiary (“TRS”) entities. A TRS is a corporation other than a REIT in which a REIT directly or indirectly holds stock, and that has made a joint election with such REIT to be treated as a TRS. A TRS also includes any corporation other than a REIT with respect to which a TRS owns securities possessing more than 35% of the total voting power or value of the outstanding securities of such corporation. Other than some activities relating to lodging and health care facilities, a TRS may generally engage in any business, including the provision of customary or non-customary services to tenants of its parent REIT. A TRS is subject to income tax as a regular C-corporation at a current federal rate of 21%.
The net income of our TRS entities is not required to be distributed to us, and income that is not distributed to us will generally not be subject to the REIT income distribution requirement. However, our TRS entities may pay dividends. Such dividend income should qualify under the 95%, but not the 75%, gross income test. We will monitor the amount of the dividend and other income from our TRS entities and will take actions intended to keep this income, and any other non-qualifying income, within the limitations of the REIT income tests. While we expect these actions will prevent a violation of the REIT income tests, we cannot guarantee that such actions will in all cases prevent such a violation.
Our ownership of TRS entities is subject to limitations that could prevent us from growing our management business, and our transactions with our TRS entities could cause us to be subject to a 100% penalty tax on certain income or deductions if those transactions are not conducted on an arm’s-length basis.
No more than 20% of the value of a REIT’s gross assets may consist of interests in TRS entities. Compliance with this limitation could limit our ability to grow our management business. The IRC also imposes a 100% excise tax on certain transactions between a TRS and its parent REIT that are not conducted on an arm’s-length basis. We will monitor the value of investments in our TRS entities in order to ensure compliance with TRS ownership limitations and will structure our transactions with our TRS entities on terms that we believe are arm’s-length to avoid incurring the 100% excise tax described above. There can be no assurance, however, that we will be able to comply with the TRS ownership limitation or be able to avoid application of the 100% excise tax.
REIT distribution requirements could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plans, including because we may be required to borrow funds to make distributions to stockholders or otherwise depend on external sources of capital to fund such distributions.
We generally must distribute annually at least 90% of our REIT taxable income (which is determined without regard to the dividends paid deduction or net capital gain for this purpose) in order to continue to qualify as a REIT. To the extent that we satisfy the distribution requirement but distribute less than 100% of our taxable income, we will be subject to federal corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income. In addition, we may elect to retain and pay income tax on our net long-term capital gain. In that case, if we so elect, a stockholder would be taxed on its proportionate share of our undistributed long-term gain and would receive a credit or refund for its proportionate share of the tax we paid. A stockholder, including a tax-exempt or foreign stockholder, would have to file a U.S. federal income tax return to claim that credit or refund. Furthermore, we will be subject to a 4% nondeductible excise tax if the actual amount that we distribute to our stockholders in a calendar year is less than a minimum amount specified under federal tax laws.
We intend to make distributions to our stockholders to comply with the REIT requirements of the IRC and to avoid corporate income tax and the 4% excise tax. We may be required to make distributions to our stockholders at times when it would be more advantageous to reinvest cash in its business or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution. Thus, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to operate solely on the basis of maximizing profits.
If we do not have other funds available, we could be required to borrow funds on unfavorable terms, sell investments at disadvantageous prices or find another alternative source of funds to make distributions sufficient to enable us to distribute enough of our taxable income to satisfy the REIT distribution requirement and to avoid corporate income tax and the 4% excise tax in a particular year. These alternatives could increase our costs or reduce our equity.
Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to forego otherwise attractive opportunities or liquidate otherwise attractive investments.
To continue to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we must continually satisfy tests concerning, among other things, the sources of our income, the nature and diversification of our assets, the amounts we distribute to stockholders and the ownership of our stock. As discussed above, we may be required to make distributions to you at disadvantageous
times or when we do not have funds readily available for distribution. Additionally, we may be unable to pursue investments that would be otherwise attractive to us in order to satisfy the requirements for qualifying as a REIT.
We must also ensure that at the end of each calendar quarter, at least 75% of the value of our assets consists of cash, cash items, government securities and qualified real estate assets, including certain mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities. The remainder of our investment in securities (other than government securities and qualified real estate assets) generally cannot include more than 10% of the outstanding voting securities of any one issuer or more than 10% of the total value of the outstanding securities of any one issuer. In addition, in general, no more than 5% of the value of our assets can consist of the securities of any one issuer (other than government securities and qualified real estate assets) and no more than 20% of the value of our gross assets may be represented by securities of one or more TRS. Finally, no more than 25% of our assets may consist of debt investments that are issued by “publicly offered REITs” and would not otherwise be treated as qualifying real estate assets. If we fail to comply with these requirements at the end of any calendar quarter, we must correct such failure within 30 days after the end of the calendar quarter to avoid losing our REIT status and suffering adverse tax consequences, unless certain relief provisions apply. As a result, compliance with the REIT requirements may hinder our ability to operate solely on the basis of profit maximization and may require us to liquidate investments from our portfolio, or refrain from making otherwise attractive investments. These actions could have the effect of reducing our income and amounts available for distribution to stockholders.
The prohibited transactions tax may limit our ability to engage in transactions, including disposition of assets, which would be treated as sales for U.S. federal income tax purposes.
A REIT’s net income from prohibited transactions is subject to a 100% tax. In general, prohibited transactions are sales or other dispositions of dealer property, other than foreclosure property. We may be subject to the prohibited transaction tax upon a disposition of real property. Although a safe-harbor exception to prohibited transaction treatment is available, we cannot assure you that we can comply with such safe harbor or that we will avoid owning property that may be characterized as held primarily for sale to customers in the ordinary course of our trade or business. Consequently, we may choose not to engage in certain sales of real property or may conduct such sales through a TRS.
It may be possible to reduce the impact of the prohibited transaction tax by conducting certain activities through a TRS. However, to the extent that we engage in such activities through a TRS, the income associated with such activities will be subject to a corporate income tax. In addition, the IRS may attempt to ignore or otherwise recast such activities in order to impose a prohibited transaction tax on us, and there can be no assurance that such recast will not be successful.
We may recognize substantial amounts of REIT taxable income, which we would be required to distribute to our stockholders, in a year in which we are not profitable under GAAP principles or other economic measures.
We may recognize substantial amounts of REIT taxable income in years in which we are not profitable under GAAP or other economic measures as a result of the differences between GAAP and tax accounting methods. For instance, certain of our assets will be marked-to-market for GAAP purposes but not for tax purposes, which could result in losses for GAAP purposes that are not recognized in computing our REIT taxable income. Additionally, we may deduct our capital losses only to the extent of our capital gains in computing our REIT taxable income for a given taxable year. Consequently, we could recognize substantial amounts of REIT taxable income and would be required to distribute such income to you in a year in which we are not profitable under GAAP or other economic measures.
Our qualification as a REIT could be jeopardized as a result of an interest in joint ventures or investment funds.
We may hold certain limited partner or non-managing member interests in partnerships or limited liability companies that are joint ventures or investment funds. If a partnership or limited liability company in which we own an interest takes or expects to take actions that could jeopardize our qualification as a REIT or require us to pay tax, we may be forced to dispose of our interest in such entity. In addition, it is possible that a partnership or limited liability company could take an action which could cause us to fail a REIT gross income or asset test, and that we would not become aware of such action in time to dispose of our interest in the partnership or limited liability company or take other corrective action on a timely basis. In that case, we could fail to continue to qualify as a REIT unless we are able to qualify for a statutory REIT “savings” provision, which may require us to pay a significant penalty tax to maintain our REIT qualification.
Distributions paid by REITs do not qualify for the reduced tax rates that apply to other corporate distributions.
The maximum tax rate for “qualified dividends” paid by corporations to non-corporate stockholders is currently 20%. Distributions paid by REITs to non-corporate stockholders generally are taxed at rates lower than ordinary income rates, but those rates are higher than the 20% tax rate on qualified dividend income paid by corporations. Although this does not adversely affect the taxation of REITs or dividends payable by REITs, to the extent that the preferential rates continue to apply to regular corporate qualified dividends, the more favorable rates for corporate dividends may cause non-corporate investors to perceive that an investment in a REIT is less attractive than an investment in a non-REIT entity that pays dividends, thereby reducing the demand and market price of shares of our common stock.
Legislative or regulatory tax changes could adversely affect us or our stockholders.
At any time, the U.S. federal income tax laws or regulations governing REITs or the administrative interpretations of those laws or regulations may be amended. We cannot predict when or if any new U.S. federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation, or any amendment to any existing U.S. federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation, will be adopted, promulgated or become effective and any such law, regulation or interpretation may take effect retroactively. Any such change could result in an increase in our, or our stockholders’, tax liability or require changes in the manner in which we operate in order to minimize increases in our tax liability. A shortfall in tax revenues for states and municipalities in which we operate may lead to an increase in the frequency and size of such changes. If such changes occur, we may be required to pay additional taxes on our assets or income or be subject to additional restrictions. These increased tax costs could, among other things, adversely affect our financial condition, the results of operations, and the amount of cash available for the payment of dividends. We and our stockholders could be adversely affected by any such change in, or any new, U.S. federal income tax law, regulation, or administrative interpretation.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many state and local governments with reduced tax revenue, which may lead such governments to increase taxes or otherwise make significant changes to their state and local tax laws. If such changes occur, we may be required to pay additional taxes on our assets or income.
If our assets are deemed to be plan assets, we may be exposed to liabilities under Title I of ERISA and the IRC.
In some circumstances where an ERISA plan holds an interest in an entity, the assets of the entity are deemed to be ERISA plan assets unless an exception applies. This is known as the “look-through rule.” Under those circumstances, the obligations and other responsibilities of plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries and plan administrators, and of parties in interest and disqualified persons, under Title I of ERISA or Section 4975 of the IRC, may be applicable, and there may be liability under these and other provisions of ERISA and the IRC. We believe that our assets should not be treated as plan assets because the shares of our common stock should qualify as “publicly-offered securities” that are exempt from the look-through rules under applicable Treasury Regulations. We note, however, that because certain limitations are imposed upon the transferability of shares of our common stock so that we may qualify as a REIT, and perhaps for other reasons, it is possible that this exemption may not apply. If that is the case, and if we are exposed to liability under ERISA or the IRC, our performance and results of operations could be adversely affected.
ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES
Real Estate Investments—The following table details information for our wholly-owned properties and those owned through our joint ventures as of December 31, 2020, which is the basis for determining the prorated information included in the subsequent tables (dollars and square feet in thousands):
|Ownership Percentage||Number of Properties||ABR||GLA|
|Wholly-owned properties||100%||283 ||$||386,516 ||31,709 |
|Necessity Retail Partners||20%||5 ||$||7,879 ||507 |
Grocery Retail Partners I(1)
|14%||20 ||28,596 ||2,218 |
(1)On October 1, 2020, GRP I acquired GRP II, an additional joint venture in which we owned an equity interest. Our ownership in the combined entity was adjusted upon consummation of the transaction.
The following table presents information regarding the geographic location of our properties, including wholly-owned and the prorated portion of those owned through our joint ventures, by ABR as of December 31, 2020. For additional portfolio information, refer to Schedule III - Real Estate Assets and Accumulated Depreciation (dollars and square feet in thousands):
|% ABR||ABR/Leased Square Foot|
|% GLA||% Leased||Number of Properties|
|Florida||$||49,082 ||12.5 ||%||$||12.78 ||4,116 ||12.8 ||%||93.3 ||%||53 |
|California||40,612 ||10.4 ||%||18.48 ||2,321 ||7.2 ||%||94.7 ||%||25 |
|Georgia||34,863 ||8.9 ||%||12.22 ||2,925 ||9.1 ||%||97.6 ||%||30 |
|Texas||30,878 ||7.9 ||%||15.56 ||2,167 ||6.7 ||%||91.6 ||%||18 |
|Ohio||28,324 ||7.2 ||%||9.98 ||2,980 ||9.3 ||%||95.3 ||%||26 |
|Illinois||22,810 ||5.8 ||%||14.77 ||1,647 ||5.1 ||%||93.8 ||%||15 |
|Virginia||18,030 ||4.6 ||%||13.84 ||1,351 ||4.2 ||%||96.4 ||%||13 |
|Colorado||17,693 ||4.5 ||%||15.79 ||1,162 ||3.6 ||%||96.4 ||%||10 |
|Massachusetts||15,770 ||4.0 ||%||14.07 ||1,170 ||3.6 ||%||95.8 ||%||10 |
|Pennsylvania||11,676 ||3.0 ||%||11.35 ||1,086 ||3.4 ||%||94.7 ||%||7 |
|Minnesota||11,189 ||2.9 ||%||12.51 ||924 ||2.9 ||%||96.7 ||%||10 |
|South Carolina||10,458 ||2.7 ||%||9.16 ||1,302 ||4.1 ||%||87.7 ||%||11 |
|Arizona||9,824 ||2.5 ||%||12.51 ||845 ||2.6 ||%||92.9 ||%||7 |
|Wisconsin||9,324 ||2.4 ||%||10.08 ||944 ||2.9 ||%||98.0 ||%||8 |
|North Carolina||8,966 ||2.3 ||%||11.86 ||810 ||2.5 ||%||93.3 ||%||13 |
|Maryland||8,895 ||2.3 ||%||19.81 ||464 ||1.4 ||%||96.8 ||%||4 |
|Indiana||6,663 ||1.7 ||%||8.14 ||832 ||2.6 ||%||98.4 ||%||5 |
|Michigan||6,478 ||1.7 ||%||9.26 ||724 ||2.3 ||%||96.6 ||%||5 |
|Tennessee||6,118 ||1.6 ||%||8.57 ||777 ||2.4 ||%||91.9 ||%||6 |
|Connecticut||5,411 ||1.4 ||%||13.88 ||419 ||1.3 ||%||93.1 ||%||4 |
|New Mexico||5,360 ||1.4 ||%||13.70 ||404 ||1.3 ||%||96.9 ||%||3 |
|Oregon||5,195 ||1.3 ||%||14.56 ||374 ||1.2 ||%||95.5 ||%||5 |
|Kentucky||4,836 ||1.2 ||%||9.84 ||502 ||1.6 ||%||98.0 ||%||3 |
|New Jersey||4,659 ||1.2 ||%||17.32 ||276 ||0.9 ||%||97.3 ||%||2 |
|Kansas||4,554 ||1.2 ||%||11.12 ||452 ||1.4 ||%||90.6 ||%||4 |
|Nevada||4,317 ||1.1 ||%||20.01 ||217 ||0.7 ||%||99.4 ||%||2 |
|Iowa||2,726 ||0.7 ||%||8.83 ||360 ||1.1 ||%||85.9 ||%||3 |
|Washington||2,604 ||0.6 ||%||15.47 ||170 ||0.5 ||%||98.8 ||%||2 |
|Missouri||2,528 ||0.5 ||%||11.48 ||222 ||0.7 ||%||99.4 ||%||2 |
|New York||1,801 ||0.4 ||%||11.26 ||163 ||0.5 ||%||97.9 ||%||1 |
|Utah||451 ||0.1 ||%||30.97 ||15 ||0.1 ||%||100.0 ||%||1 |
|Total||$||392,095 ||100.0 ||%||$||12.89 ||32,121 ||100.0 ||%||94.7 ||%||308 |
(1)We calculate ABR as monthly contractual rent as of December 31, 2020, multiplied by 12 months.
(2)GLA is defined as the total occupied and unoccupied square footage of a building that is available for Neighbors to lease.
Lease Expirations—The following chart shows the aggregate scheduled lease expirations, excluding our Neighbors who are occupying space on a temporary basis, after December 31, 2020 for each of the next ten years and thereafter for our wholly-owned properties and the prorated portion of those owned through our joint ventures:
Our ability to create rental rate growth generally depends on our leverage during new and renewal lease negotiations with prospective and existing Neighbors, which typically occurs when occupancy at our centers is high or during periods of economic growth and recovery. Conversely, we may experience rental rate decline when occupancy at our centers is low or during periods of economic recession, as the leverage during new and renewal lease negotiations may shift to prospective and existing Neighbors.
Most of our grocery Neighbors have remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, though their sales may have been impacted by social distancing and “stay-at-home” mandates. The number of our Neighbor spaces that temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic peaked in April 2020 and has significantly decreased as states began to lift in full or in part “stay-at-home” mandates in May 2020. Certain Neighbors remain temporarily closed, have since closed after reopening, are limiting the number of customers allowed in their stores, or have modified their operations in other ways that may impact their profitability, either as a result of government mandates or self-elected efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These actions could result in increased permanent store closings and could reduce the demand for leasing space in our shopping centers and result in a decline in average rental rates on expiring leases. For our wholly-owned properties, our average rental rates on new and renewal leases have exceeded the average rental rates on comparable expiring leases as of December 31, 2020; however, our occupancy declined 0.7% to 94.7% as compared to December 31, 2019, owing largely to the economic impact of COVID-19, and we anticipate our occupancy may decline further in early 2021. We will likely continue to experience pressure in new and renewal rental rates until the business environment becomes more stable, but new leasing volume in early 2021 remains strong.
For our wholly-owned portfolio, during the 2021 fiscal year, we have a total of 585 leases expiring, representing 2.7 million square feet of GLA. These expiring leases have an ABR of $12.43 per square foot. While we cannot predict what rental rates we will achieve in 2021 as we renew or replace these expiring leases, the comparable rent spread of new leases signed during 2020 was 8.2%, and the comparable rent spread for lease renewals and options executed in 2020 was 6.7%. Subsequent to December 31, 2020, we renewed approximately 0.3 million total square feet and $5.5 million of total ABR of future expiring leases. This includes seven anchor lease renewals, five of which were pursuant to the exercise of an option to extend the lease.
See “Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Overview - Leasing Activity” of this filing on Form 10-K for further discussion of leasing activity.
Portfolio Tenancy—We define national Neighbors as those Neighbors that operate in at least three states. Regional Neighbors are defined as those Neighbors that have at least three locations in fewer than three states. The following charts present the composition of our portfolio, including our wholly-owned properties and the prorated portion of those owned through our joint ventures, by Neighbor type as of December 31, 2020:
The following charts present the composition of our portfolio by neighbor industry as of December 31, 2020:
We estimate that approximately 51% of our ABR, including the pro rata portion attributable to our properties owned through our joint ventures, is from retail and service businesses generally deemed essential under most state and local mandates issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The composition of our portfolio as a percentage of ABR is as follows:
| ||December 31, 2020|
|Essential Retail and Services:|
|Dollar stores||2.2 ||%|
|Pet supply||2.1 ||%|
|Wine, beer, and liquor||1.4 ||%|
|Other essential||2.8 ||%|
Total essential retail and services(1)
|Quick service||9.6 ||%|
|Full service||6.0 ||%|
|Total restaurants||15.6 ||%|
|Other Retail and Services:|
|Soft goods||12.3 ||%|
|Total other retail and services||33.1 ||%|
|Total ABR||100.0 ||%|
(1)Includes Neighbors that we believe are considered to be essential retail and service businesses but that may have temporarily closed due to decreases in foot traffic and customer patronage as a result of “stay-at-home” mandates and social distancing guidelines implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following table presents our top twenty Neighbors by ABR, including our wholly-owned properties and the prorated portion of those owned through our joint ventures, as of December 31, 2020 (dollars and square feet in thousands):
|ABR||% of ABR||Leased |
|% of Leased Square Feet|
Number of Locations(2)
|Kroger||$||27,130 ||6.9 ||%||3,447 ||11.3 ||%||64 |
|Publix||22,003 ||5.6 ||%||2,240 ||7.4 ||%||56 |
|Ahold Delhaize||17,514 ||4.5 ||%||1,264 ||4.2 ||%||24 |
|Albertsons-Safeway||16,866 ||4.3 ||%||1,637 ||5.4 ||%||31 |
|Walmart||8,933 ||2.3 ||%||1,770 ||5.8 ||%||13 |
|Giant Eagle||8,183 ||2.1 ||%||822 ||2.7 ||%||12 |
|TJX Companies||4,984 ||1.3 ||%||428 ||1.4 ||%||15 |
|Sprouts Farmers Market||4,885 ||1.2 ||%||334 ||1.1 ||%||11 |
|Dollar Tree||4,048 ||1.0 ||%||423 ||1.4 ||%||44 |
|Raley's||3,884 ||1.0 ||%||253 ||0.8 ||%||4 |
|SUPERVALU||3,467 ||0.9 ||%||376 ||1.2 ||%||7 |
|Subway Group||3,048 ||0.8 ||%||125 ||0.4 ||%||90 |
|Schnuck's||3,025 ||0.8 ||%||329 ||1.1 ||%||5 |
|Anytime Fitness, Inc.||2,740 ||0.7 ||%||180 ||0.6 ||%||38 |
|Southeastern Grocers||2,626 ||0.7 ||%||291 ||1.0 ||%||8 |
|Save Mart||2,619 ||0.7 ||%||309 ||1.0 ||%||6 |
|Lowe's||2,469 ||0.6 ||%||369 ||1.2 ||%||4 |
|Kohl's Corporation||2,255 ||0.6 ||%||365 ||1.2 ||%||4 |
|Food 4 Less (PAQ)||2,215 ||0.6 ||%||118 ||0.4 ||%||2 |
|Petco Animal Supplies, Inc.||2,103 ||0.5 ||%||127 ||0.4 ||%||11 |
|Total||$||144,997 ||37.1 ||%||15,207 ||50.0 ||%||449 |
(1)Neighbors are grouped by parent company and may represent multiple subsidiaries and banners.
(2)Number of locations excludes auxiliary leases with grocery anchors such as fuel stations, pharmacies, and liquor stores. Additionally, in the event that a parent company has multiple subsidiaries or banners serving as Neighbors in a shopping center, those subsidiaries are included as one location.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
From time to time, we are party to legal proceedings, which arise in the ordinary course of our business. We are not currently involved in any legal proceedings for which we are not covered by our liability insurance or the outcome is reasonably likely to have a material impact on our results of operations or financial condition, nor are we aware of any such legal proceedings contemplated by governmental authorities.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS, AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
As of March 1, 2021, we had approximately 280.7 million shares of common stock outstanding, held by a total of 61,585 stockholders of record. The number of stockholders is based on the records of our registrar and transfer agent. Our common stock is not currently traded on any exchange, and there is no established trading market for our common stock. Therefore, there is a risk that a stockholder may not be able to sell our stock at a time or price acceptable to the stockholder, or at all.
On May 6, 2020, the independent directors of our Board declared the estimated value per share (“EVPS”) of our common stock as $8.75. The valuation was based substantially on the estimated “as is” market value of our portfolio of real estate properties
in various geographic locations in the United States as well as our pro rata share of those properties owned through our joint ventures (collectively, our “Portfolio”) and the estimated value of in-place contracts of our third-party asset management business as of March 31, 2020.
We provided the EVPS to assist broker-dealers that participated in our public offering in meeting their customer account statement reporting obligations under Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) Rule 2231. This valuation was performed in accordance with the provisions of Practice Guideline 2013-01, Valuations of Publicly Registered Non-Listed REITs, issued by the Institute for Portfolio Alternatives (“IPA”) in April 2013 (“IPA Valuation Guidelines”).
We engaged Duff & Phelps, LLC (“Duff & Phelps”), an independent valuation expert that has expertise in appraising commercial real estate assets, to provide a calculation of the range in EVPS of our common stock as of March 31, 2020. Duff & Phelps prepared a valuation report (“Valuation Report”) that provided this range based substantially on its estimate of the “as is” market value of the Portfolio and the estimated value of in-place contracts of the third-party asset management business. Duff & Phelps made adjustments to the aggregate estimated value of our Portfolio to reflect balance sheet assets and liabilities provided by our management as of March 31, 2020, before calculating a range of estimated values based on the number of outstanding shares of our common stock as of March 31, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the global financial markets. As of the valuation date, Duff & Phelps attached less weight to previous market evidence for comparison purposes to arrive at opinions of value. Due to a dearth of transaction activity that takes into account this impact, they were forced to infer conclusions from public market data (stock prices) and other data, which are very volatile. They surveyed market participants on a daily basis to try to ascertain market inputs, but due to the overall uncertainty of the broader markets, the data points are not widely consistent. The valuation is, therefore, reported on the basis of “material valuation uncertainty”. Consequently, less certainty, and a higher degree of caution, should be attached to the valuation than would normally be the case. These calculations produced an EVPS in the range of $8.45 to $9.68 as of March 31, 2020, and the independent directors, after discussions with management, approved $8.75 as the EVPS as of March 31, 2020. We previously established an EVPS on May 8, 2019 of $11.10 based substantially on the same methodology and process as of March 31, 2019, with the exception of the weighting adjustments described previously. We expect to review the EVPS at least annually.
The following table summarizes the material components of the EVPS of our common stock as of March 31, 2020 (in thousands, except per share amounts):
|Investment in Real Estate Assets:|
|Phillips Edison real estate valuation||$||5,135,800 ||$||5,536,300 |
|Management company||23,000 ||23,000 |
Joint venture properties(1)
|87,345 ||94,290 |
|Total market value||5,246,145 ||5,653,590 |
|Cash and cash equivalents||35,437 ||35,437 |
|Restricted cash||47,866 ||47,866 |
|Accounts receivable||49,645 ||49,645 |
|Derivative assets||18 ||18 |
|Prepaid expenses and other assets||12,009 ||12,009 |
|Total other assets||144,975 ||144,975 |
|Notes payable and credit facility||2,420,714 ||2,420,714 |
|Mark to market - debt||10,052 ||10,052 |
|Derivative liability||62,756 ||62,756 |
|Accounts payable and accrued expenses||82,138 ||82,138 |
|Total liabilities||2,575,660 ||2,575,660 |
|Net Asset Value||$||2,815,460 ||$||3,222,905 |
|Common stock and Operating Partnership units (“OP units”) outstanding||333,092 ||333,092 |
|Net Asset Value Per Share||$||8.45 ||$||9.68 |
(1)Represents our pro rata share of the properties owned by our joint ventures.
Our goal is to provide an estimate of the market value of our shares. However, the majority of our assets consist of commercial real estate, and as with any valuation methodology, the methodologies used were based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that may not have been accurate or complete. Different parties with different assumptions and estimates could have derived a different EVPS, and those differences could have been significant. These limitations are discussed further under “Limitations of Estimated Value per Share” below.
Valuation Methodologies—Our goal in calculating an EVPS was to arrive at a value that was reasonable and based off of what we deemed to be appropriate valuation and appraisal methodologies and assumptions and a process that was in accordance with the IPA Valuation Guidelines. The following is a summary of the valuation methodologies and components used to calculate the EVPS.
Independent Valuation Firm—Duff & Phelps was retained by us on February 27, 2020, as authorized by the independent directors of the Board, to provide independent valuation services. Duff & Phelps, who is not affiliated with us, is a leading global valuation advisor with expertise in complex valuation work. Duff & Phelps had previously provided services to us pertaining to the allocation of acquisition purchase prices for financial reporting purposes in connection with the Portfolio, for which it received usual and customary compensation. Duff & Phelps may be engaged to provide professional services to us in the future. The Duff & Phelps personnel who prepared the valuation had no present or prospective interest in the Portfolio and no personal interest with us.
Duff & Phelps’ engagement for its valuation services was not contingent upon developing or reporting predetermined results. In addition, Duff & Phelps’ compensation for completing the valuation services was not contingent upon the development or reporting of a predetermined value or direction in value that favors the cause of us, the amount of the value opinion, the attainment of a stipulated result, or the occurrence of a subsequent event directly related to the intended use of its Valuation Report. We agreed to indemnify Duff & Phelps against certain liabilities arising out of this engagement.
Duff & Phelps’ analyses, opinions, or conclusions were developed, and the Valuation Report was prepared, in conformity with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. The Valuation Report was reviewed, approved and signed by individuals with the professional designation of MAI (Member of the Appraisal Institute). The use of the Valuation Report is subject to the requirements of the Appraisal Institute relating to review by its duly authorized representatives. Duff & Phelps did not inspect the properties that formed the Portfolio.
In preparing the Valuation Report, Duff & Phelps relied on information provided by us regarding the Portfolio. For example, we provided information regarding building size, year of construction, land size and other physical, financial, and economic characteristics. We also provided lease information, such as current rent amounts, rent commencement and expiration dates, and rent increase amounts and dates. Property-level cash flow projections were negatively impacted for the estimated effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duff & Phelps did not investigate the legal description or legal matters relating to the Portfolio, including title or encumbrances, and title to the properties was assumed to be good and marketable. The Portfolio was also assumed to be free and clear of liens, easements, encroachments and other encumbrances, and to be in full compliance with zoning, use, occupancy, environmental and similar laws unless otherwise stated by us. The Valuation Report contains other assumptions, qualifications and limitations that qualify the analysis, opinions and conclusions set forth therein. Furthermore, the prices at which our real estate properties may actually be sold could differ from their appraised values.
The foregoing is a summary of the standard assumptions, qualifications and limitations that generally apply to the Valuation Report.
Real Estate Portfolio Valuation—Duff & Phelps estimated the “as is” market values of the Portfolio as of March 31, 2020, using various methodologies. Generally accepted valuation practice suggests assets may be valued using a range of methodologies. Duff & Phelps utilized the income capitalization approach with support from the sales comparison approach for each property. The income approach was the primary indicator of value, with secondary consideration given to the sales approach. Duff & Phelps performed a study of each market to measure current market conditions, supply and demand factors, growth patterns, and their effect on each of the subject properties.
The income capitalization approach simulates the reasoning of an investor who views the cash flows that would result from the anticipated revenue and expense on a property throughout its lifetime. Under the income capitalization approach, Duff & Phelps used an estimated net operating income (“NOI”) for each property, and then converted it to a value indication using a discounted cash flow analysis. The discounted cash flow analysis focuses on the operating cash flows expected from a property and the anticipated proceeds of a hypothetical sale at the end of an assumed holding period, with these amounts then being discounted to their present value. The discounted cash flow method is appropriate for the analysis of investment properties with multiple leases, particularly leases with cancellation clauses or renewal options, and especially in volatile markets.
The sales comparison approach estimates value based on what other purchasers and sellers in the market have agreed to as a price for comparable improved properties. This approach is based upon the principle of substitution, which states that the limits of prices, rents and rates tend to be set by the prevailing prices, rents and rates of equally desirable substitutes. Duff & Phelps gathered comparable sales data throughout various markets as secondary support for its valuation estimate.
The following summarizes the upper and lower bounds of the average terminal capitalization rates and discount rates that were used to arrive at the estimated market values of our Portfolio:
|Range in Values|
|Terminal Capitalization Rate||7.08% - 7.58%|
|Discount Rate||7.69% - 8.19%|
Management Company Valuation—Duff & Phelps estimated the aggregate market value associated with our third-party asset management business using various methodologies. Duff & Phelps considered various applications of the income approach, market approach, and underlying assets approach, with the income approach determined to be the most reliable method for purposes of the analysis. The income approach analysis considered the projected fee income earned for services provided pursuant to various management and advisory agreements over the expected duration of that contract, assuming normal and customary renewal provisions. Such services include property management services performed for the properties in the Portfolio, as well as property and asset management services for certain unaffiliated real estate investment portfolios. In performing this analysis, solely fee income related to properties owned as of March 31, 2020 was considered. The income
approach also considered a reasonable level of expenses to support such activities, as well as other adjustments, and a discount rate that accounted for the time value of money and the risk of achieving the projected cash flows. All other assets and liabilities acquired are short term in nature and therefore the carrying value is considered to approximate the fair value. The result of the income approach analysis was the aggregate market value of the third-party asset management business, from which an estimated market value of net tangible assets (liabilities) was subtracted (added), to result in the aggregate intangible value of the management company.
Sensitivity Analysis—While we believe that Duff & Phelps’ assumptions and inputs were reasonable, a change in these assumptions would have impacted the calculations of the estimated value of the Portfolio, the estimated value of our third-party asset management business, and our EVPS. The table below illustrates the impact on Duff & Phelps’ range in EVPS if the terminal capitalization rates or discount rates were adjusted by 25 basis points and assumes all other factors remain unchanged. Additionally, the table illustrates the impact if only one change in assumptions was made, with all other factors held constant. Further, each of these assumptions could change by more than 25 basis points or 5%.
|Resulting Range in Estimated Value Per Share|
|Increase of 25 basis points||Decrease of 25 basis points||Increase of 5%||Decrease of 5%|
|Terminal Capitalization Rate||$8.25 - $9.42||$8.81 - $10.10||$8.13 - $9.31||$8.95 - $10.24|
|Discount Rate||$8.23 - $9.43||$8.81 - $10.07||$8.06 - $9.28||$8.99 - $10.24|
Other Assets and Other Liabilities—Duff & Phelps made adjustments to the aggregate estimated values of our investments to reflect our other assets and other liabilities based on balance sheet information provided by us as of March 31, 2020.
Role of the Independent Directors—The independent directors discussed the valuation process and results with representatives of Duff & Phelps. The independent directors also discussed the results, the Portfolio, the third-party asset management business, our other assets and liabilities, and other matters with management. Management recommended to the independent directors that $8.75 per share be approved as the EVPS of our common stock. The independent directors discussed the rationale for this value with management.
Following the independent directors’ discussion with Duff & Phelps and the recommendation of management, and in light of other factors considered by the independent directors, the independent directors concluded that the range in EVPS of $8.45 to $9.68 was appropriate. The independent directors agreed to accept the recommendation of management and approved $8.75 as the EVPS of our common stock as of March 31, 2020, which determination was ultimately and solely the responsibility of the independent directors.
Limitations of Estimated Value per Share—We are providing this EVPS to assist broker-dealers that participated in our public offering in meeting our customer account statement reporting obligations. This valuation was performed in accordance with the provisions of the IPA Valuation Guidelines. As with any valuation methodology, the methodologies used were based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that may not have been accurate or complete. Different parties with different assumptions and estimates could have derived a different EVPS, and this difference could have been significant. The EVPS is not audited and does not represent a determination of the fair value of our assets or liabilities based on accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”), nor does it represent a liquidation value of our assets and liabilities, the price a third party would pay to acquire us, the price at which our shares of common stock would trade in secondary markets, or the amount at which our shares of common stock would trade on a national securities exchange.
Accordingly, we can give no assurance that:
•our shares would trade at or near the EVPS if listed on a national securities exchange;
•a stockholder would be able to resell his or her shares at the EVPS;
•a stockholder would ultimately realize distributions per share equal to the EVPS upon a liquidation of our assets and settlement of our liabilities;
•a stockholder would receive an amount per share equal to the EVPS upon a sale of the Company;
•a third party would offer the EVPS in an arm’s-length transaction to purchase all or substantially all of our shares of common stock;
•another independent third-party appraiser or third-party valuation firm would agree with our EVPS; or
•the methodologies used to calculate our EVPS would be acceptable to FINRA for use on customer account statements or that the EVPS will satisfy the applicable annual valuation requirements under ERISA.
Further, aside from estimates regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not made any adjustments to the valuation of our EVPS for the impact of other transactions occurring subsequent to March 31, 2020, including, but not limited to, (1) acquisitions or dispositions of assets, (2) the issuance of common stock under the Dividend Reinvestment Plan (“DRIP”), (3) NOI and dividends declared (see “Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Measures - Same-Center Net Operating Income” of this filing on Form 10-K for the calculation of NOI), (4) the repurchase of shares, and (5) changes in leases, tenancy, or other business and operational changes. The value of our shares of common stock will fluctuate over time in response to developments related to individual real estate assets, the management of those assets, and changes in the real estate and finance markets. Because of, among other factors, the high concentration of our total assets in real estate and the number of shares of our common stock outstanding, changes in the value of individual real estate assets or changes in valuation assumptions could have a very significant impact on the value of our shares of common stock. The EVPS does not take into account any disposition costs or fees for real estate properties, debt prepayment penalties that may be incurred upon the prepayment of certain of our debt obligations, or the impact of restrictions on the assumption of debt. Accordingly, the EVPS of our common stock may or may not be an accurate reflection of the fair market value of our stockholders’ investments and will not likely represent the amount of net proceeds that would result from an immediate sale of our assets.
Distributions—We elected to be taxed as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) for federal income tax purposes commencing with our taxable year ended December 31, 2010. As a REIT, we have made, and intend to continue to make, distributions each taxable year equal to at least 90% of our taxable income (excluding capital gains and computed without regard to the dividends paid deduction).
On March 27, 2020, our Board suspended stockholder distributions, effective after the payment of the March 2020 distribution on April 1, 2020, as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 4, 2020, our Board authorized distributions for the month of December 2020, for stockholders of record at the close of business on December 28, 2020, equal to a monthly amount of $0.02833333 per share of common stock, or $0.34 annualized. On December 14, 2020, our Board announced that the date of record for December distributions was moved to December 31, 2020. OP unit holders received distributions at the same rate as common stockholders. We paid this distribution on January 12, 2021.
Amended and Restated DRIP—We have adopted the DRIP, through which stockholders may elect to reinvest an amount equal to the distributions declared on their shares of common stock into additional shares of our common stock in lieu of receiving cash distributions. In accordance with the DRIP, participants acquire shares of common stock at a price equal to the estimated value per share. Participants in the DRIP may purchase fractional shares so that 100% of the distributions may be used to acquire additional shares of our common stock. For the year ended December 31, 2020, 1.4 million shares were issued through the DRIP, resulting in proceeds of approximately $15.9 million. For the year ended December 31, 2019, 6.1 million shares were issued through the DRIP, resulting in proceeds of approximately $67.4 million.
On March 27, 2020, the DRIP was suspended, and the March 2020 distribution was paid in all cash on April 1, 2020. On November 4, 2020, our Board reinstated the DRIP, which became effective beginning with the December 2020 distribution paid in January 2021.
Unregistered Sales of Equity Securities—During the year ended December 31, 2020, we issued an aggregate of 3.0 million shares of common stock in redemption of 3.0 million OP units. These shares of common stock were issued in reliance on an exemption from registration under Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. We relied on the exemption under Section 4(a)(2) based upon factual representations received from the limited partner who received the shares of common stock.
Share Repurchases—On August 7, 2019, the Board suspended the Share Repurchase Program (“SRP”) with respect to standard repurchases. The SRP for death, qualifying disability, or determination of incompetence (“DDI”) was suspended effective March 27, 2020, in response to the uncertainty of COVID-19.
On January 8, 2021, the Board adopted the Fourth Amended and Restated Share Repurchase Program (“Fourth Amended SRP”), effective January 14, 2021. Under the Fourth Amended SRP, share repurchases for DDI have been reinstated at $5.75 per share, and as of March 1, 2021, we have repurchased 0.1 million shares for a total value of $0.4 million. The SRP with respect to standard repurchases remains suspended.
Our Board may amend, suspend, or terminate the program upon 30 days’ notice. We may provide notice by including such information (a) in a current report on Form 8-K or in our annual or quarterly reports, all publicly filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), or (b) in a separate mailing to the stockholders.
On November 4, 2020, our Board approved a voluntary tender offer that commenced on November 10, 2020 (the “Tender Offer”) for up to 4.5 million shares of our outstanding common stock at a price of $5.75 per share, for a total value of approximately $26 million. On December 14, 2020, the Tender Offer was amended to extend the expiration date to December 29, 2020, and the offer to purchase shares was increased to approximately 17.4 million shares, for a total value of approximately $100 million. All of the other terms and conditions of the Tender Offer remained unchanged. In connection with the Tender Offer, we repurchased 13.5 million shares of common stock for a total value of $77.6 million, which includes the issuance of 2.8 million common shares in redemption of 2.8 million OP units converted at the time of repurchase.
The following table presents all non-employee share repurchases for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019 (in thousands, except per share amounts):
|Shares repurchased||13,746 ||3,311 |
|Cost of repurchases||$||80,398 ||$||35,963 |
|Average repurchase price||$||5.85 ||$||10.86 |
(1)The average repurchase price is comprised of share repurchases in connection with the Tender Offer, and the SRP for DDI prior to its suspension effective March 27, 2020.
In addition, during the year ended December 31, 2020, we repurchased approximately 36,000 shares for an aggregate purchase price of $0.4 million (average price of $11.07 per share) in connection with common shares surrendered to us to
satisfy statutory minimum tax withholding obligations associated with the vesting of restricted stock awards under our equity-based compensation plan.
During the quarter ended December 31, 2020, we repurchased shares as follows (shares in thousands):
|Period||Total Number of Shares |
Average Price Paid per Share(1)(2)
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of a Publicly Announced Plan or Program(1)
|Approximate Dollar Value of Shares That May Yet Be Repurchased Under the Program|
|October 2020||—||$||— ||—|
|November 2020||—||— ||—|
|December 2020||13,452||5.75 ||13,452|
(1)Share repurchases made during the three months ended December 31, 2020 were made in connection with the Tender Offer.
(2)As the SRP remained suspended as of December 31, 2020, the dollar value and number of shares that may be repurchased were subject to the limitations of the Tender Offer. As of December 31, 2020 all share repurchases in connection with the Tender Offer had been executed.
ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
|As of and for the Years Ended December 31,|
|(in thousands, except per share amounts)||2020||2019||2018||2017||2016|
|Balance Sheet Data:|| || || || |
|Total investment in real estate assets||$||5,295,137 ||$||5,257,999 ||$||5,380,344 ||$||3,751,927 ||$||2,584,005 |
|Cash and cash equivalents||104,296 ||17,820 ||16,791 ||5,716 ||8,224 |
|Total assets||4,678,563 ||4,828,195 ||5,163,477 ||3,526,082 ||2,380,188 |
|Debt obligations, net||2,292,605 ||2,354,099 ||2,438,826 ||1,806,998 ||1,056,156 |
|Operating Data:|| || || || |
|Total revenues||$||498,017 ||$||536,706 ||$||430,392 ||$||311,543 ||$||257,730 |
|Property operating expenses||87,490 ||90,900 ||77,209 ||53,824 ||41,890 |
|Real estate tax expenses||67,016 ||70,164 ||55,335 ||43,456 ||36,627 |
|General and administrative expenses||41,383 ||48,525 ||50,412 ||36,348 ||31,804 |
|Impairment of real estate assets||2,423 ||87,393 ||40,782 ||— ||— |
|Interest expense, net||85,303 ||103,174 ||72,642 ||45,661 ||32,458 |
|Net income (loss)||5,462 ||(72,826)||46,975 ||(41,718)||9,043 |
|Net income (loss) attributable to stockholders||4,772 ||(63,532)||39,138 ||(38,391)||8,932 |
Other Operational Data:(1)
|NOI for real estate investments||$||332,023 ||$||355,796 ||$||272,450 ||$||204,407 ||$||173,910 |
|Funds from operations (“FFO”) attributable to stock-|
holders and convertible noncontrolling interests
|221,681 ||217,010 ||156,222 ||84,150 ||110,406 |
|Core FFO||220,407 ||230,866 ||176,126 ||132,011 ||114,636 |
|Cash Flow Data:|| || || || |
|Cash flows provided by operating activities||$||210,576 ||$||226,875 ||$||153,291 ||$||108,861 ||$||103,076 |
|Cash flows (used in) provided by investing activities||(44,092)||64,183 ||(258,867)||(640,742)||(191,328)|
|Cash flows (used in) provided by financing activities||(129,655)||(280,254)||162,435 ||509,380 ||90,685 |
|Per Share Data:|| || || || |
|Net income (loss) per share - basic and diluted||$||0.02 ||$||(0.22)||$||0.20 ||$||(0.21)||$||0.05 |
|Common stock distributions declared per share||$||0.19 ||$||0.67 ||$||0.67 ||$||0.67 ||$||0.67 |
|Weighted-average shares outstanding - basic||290,280 ||283,909 ||196,602 ||183,784 ||183,876 |
|Weighted-average shares outstanding - diluted||333,466 ||327,117 ||241,367 ||196,497 ||186,665 |
(1)See “Part II, Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Measures” of this filing on Form 10-K for further discussion and for a reconciliation of the non-GAAP financial measures to Net Income (Loss).
The selected financial data should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with our accompanying consolidated financial statements and notes thereto. See also “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” preceding Part I.
Key Performance Indicators and Defined Terms
We use certain key performance indicators (“KPIs”), which include both financial and nonfinancial metrics, to measure the performance of our operations. We believe these KPIs, as well as the core concepts and terms defined below, allow our Board, management, and investors to analyze trends around our business strategy, financial condition, and results of operations in a manner that is focused on items unique to the real estate industry.
We do not consider our non-GAAP measures included as KPIs to be alternatives to measures required in accordance with GAAP. Certain non-GAAP measures should not be viewed as an alternative measure of our financial performance as they may not reflect the operations of our entire portfolio, and they may not reflect the impact of general and administrative expenses, depreciation and amortization, interest expense, other income (expense), or the level of capital expenditures and leasing costs necessary to maintain the operating performance of our properties that could materially impact our results from operations. Additionally, certain non-GAAP measures should not be considered as an indication of our liquidity, nor as an indication of funds available to cover our cash needs, including our ability to fund distributions, and may not be a useful measure of the impact of long-term operating performance on value if we do not continue to operate our business in the manner currently contemplated. Accordingly, non-GAAP measures should be reviewed in connection with other GAAP measurements, and should not be viewed as more prominent measures of performance than net income (loss) or cash flows from operations prepared in accordance with GAAP. Other REITs may use different methodologies for calculating similar non-GAAP measures, and accordingly, our non-GAAP measures may not be comparable to other REITs.
Our KPIs and terminology can be grouped into three key areas:
Portfolio—Portfolio metrics help management to gauge the health of our centers overall and individually.
•Anchor space—We define an anchor space as a space greater than or equal to 10,000 square feet of gross leasable area (“GLA”).
•Annualized Base Rent (“ABR”)—We use ABR to refer to the monthly contractual rent as of December 31, 2020, multiplied by twelve months.
•ABR per Square Foot (“PSF”)—This metric is calculated by dividing ABR by leased GLA. Increases in ABR PSF can be an indication of our ability to create rental rate growth in our centers, as well as an indication of demand for our spaces, which generally provides us with greater leverage during lease negotiations.
•Inline space—We define an inline space as a space containing less than 10,000 square feet of GLA.
•GLA—We use GLA to refer to the total occupied and unoccupied square footage of a building that is available for tenants (whom we refer to as a “Neighbor” or our “Neighbors”) to lease.
•Leased Occupancy—This metric is calculated as the percentage of total GLA for which a lease has been signed regardless of whether the Neighbor has taken possession. High occupancy is an indicator of demand for our spaces, which generally provides us with greater leverage during lease negotiations.
Leasing—Leasing is a key driver of growth for our company.
•Comparable lease—We use this term to refer to a lease that is executed for the exact same space (location and square feet) in which a Neighbor was previously located 365 days from the earlier of legal possession or the day the prior Neighbor physically vacated the space.
•Comparable rent spread—This metric is calculated as being the percentage increase or decrease in first-year ABR (excluding any free rent or escalations) on new or renewal leases (excluding options) as compared to the rent on an expiring lease with the same lease terms and for the same unit, if such unit was occupied within the past twelve months. This metric provides an indication of our ability to generate revenue growth through leasing activity.
•Cost of executing new leases—We use this term to refer to certain costs associated with new leasing, namely, leasing commissions, tenant improvement costs, landlord work, and tenant concessions. The costs associated with landlord work are excluded for repositioning and redevelopment projects, if any.
•Portfolio retention rate—This metric is calculated by dividing (a) total square feet of retained Neighbors with current period lease expirations by (b) the square feet of leases expiring during the period. The portfolio retention rate provides insight into our ability to retain Neighbors at our shopping centers as their leases approach expiration. Generally, the costs to retain an existing Neighbor are lower than costs to replace with a new neighbor.
•Recovery rate—This metric is calculated by dividing (a) total recovery income by (b) total recoverable expenses during the period. A high recovery rate is an indicator of our ability to recover certain property operating expenses and capital costs from our Neighbors.
Financial Performance—In addition to financial metrics calculated in accordance with GAAP, such as net income or cash flows from operations, we utilize non-GAAP metrics to measure our operational and financial performance. See the section within this Item 7 titled Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Non-GAAP Measures for further discussion on the following metrics.
•Adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization for Real Estate (“Adjusted EBITDAre”)—To arrive at Adjusted EBITDAre, we adjust EBITDAre, as defined below, to exclude certain recurring and non-recurring items including, but not limited to: (i) changes in the fair value of the earn-out liability; (ii) other impairment charges; (iii) amortization of basis differences in our investments in our unconsolidated joint ventures; and (iv) transaction and acquisition expenses. We use EBITDAre and Adjusted EBITDAre as additional measures of operating performance which allow us to compare earnings independent of capital structure and evaluate debt leverage and fixed cost coverage.
•Core FFO—To arrive at Core FFO, we adjust FFO attributable to stockholders and convertible noncontrolling interests, as defined below, to exclude certain recurring and non-recurring items including, but not limited to: (i) depreciation and amortization of corporate assets; (ii) changes in the fair value of the earn-out liability; (iii) amortization of unconsolidated joint venture basis differences; (iv) gains or losses on the extinguishment or modification of debt, (v) other impairment charges; and (vi) transaction and acquisition expenses. We believe FFO provides insight into our operating performance as it excludes certain items that are not indicative of such performance. Core FFO provides further insight into the sustainability of our operating performance and provides an additional measure to compare our performance across reporting periods on a consistent basis by excluding items that may cause short-term fluctuations in net income (loss).
•EBITDAre—The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (“Nareit”) defines EBITDAre as net income (loss) computed in accordance with GAAP before: (i) interest expense; (ii) income tax expense; (iii) depreciation and amortization; (iv) gains or losses from disposition of depreciable property; and (v) impairment write-downs of depreciable property. Adjustments for unconsolidated partnerships and joint ventures are calculated to reflect EBITDAre on the same basis.
•FFO—Nareit defines FFO as net income (loss) computed in accordance with GAAP, excluding: (i) gains (or losses) from sales of property and gains (or losses) from change in control; (ii) depreciation and amortization; (iii) impairment losses on real estate and impairments of in-substance real estate investments in investees that are driven by measurable decreases in the fair value of the depreciable real estate held by the unconsolidated partnerships and joint ventures; and (iv) adjustments for unconsolidated partnerships and joint ventures, calculated to reflect FFO on the same basis.
•Net Debt to Adjusted EBITDAre—This ratio is calculated by dividing net debt by Adjusted EBITDAre (included on an annualized basis within the calculation). It provides insight into our leverage rate based on earnings and is not impacted by fluctuations in our equity price.
•Net Debt to Total Enterprise Value—This ratio is calculated by dividing net debt by total enterprise value. It provides insight into our capital structure and usage of debt.
•NOI—We calculate NOI as total operating revenues, adjusted to exclude non-cash revenue items, less property operating expenses and real estate taxes. NOI provides insight about our financial and operating performance because it provides a performance measure of the revenues and expenses directly involved in owning and operating real estate assets and provides a perspective not immediately apparent from net income (loss).
•Same-Center—We use this term to refer to a property, or portfolio of properties, that have been owned and operational for the entirety of each reporting period (i.e., since January 1, 2019).
We are an internally-managed REIT and one of the nation’s largest owners and operators of grocery-anchored shopping centers. The majority of our revenue is lease revenue derived from our real estate investments. Additionally, we operate an investment management business providing property management and advisory services to over $515 million of third-party assets. This business provides comprehensive real estate and asset management services to two institutional joint ventures, in which we retain an ownership interest, and one private fund (collectively, the “Managed Funds”).
On October 1, 2020, Grocery Retail Partners I LLC (“GRP I”), a joint venture with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (“Northwestern Mutual”) in which we own an equity interest, acquired Grocery Retail Partners II LLC (“GRP II”), an additional joint venture with Northwestern Mutual in which we owned an equity interest. Our ownership in the combined entity was adjusted upon consummation of the transaction, and we own approximately a 14% interest in GRP I as a result of the acquisition.
Below are statistical highlights of our wholly-owned portfolio:
|December 31, 2020||December 31, 2019|
|Number of properties||283 ||287 |
|Number of states||31 ||31 |
|Total square feet (in thousands)||31,709 ||32,130 |