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Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PEI) Q4 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

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Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the PREIT Fourth Quarter 2019 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] I will now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Heather Crowell. Thank you. Please go ahead, ma’am.

Heather CrowellExecutive Vice President Strategy & Communications

Good morning, and thank you all for joining us for PREIT’s fourth quarter 2019 earnings call. During this call, we will make certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities laws. These statements relate to expectations, beliefs, projections, trends and other matters that are not historical facts and are subject to risks and uncertainties that might affect future events or results. Descriptions of these risks are set forth in the company’s SEC filings. Statements that PREIT makes today might be accurate only as of today, February 26, 2020, and PREIT makes no undertaking to update any such statements. Also, certain non-GAAP measures will be discussed. PREIT has included reconciliations of such measures to the comparable GAAP measures in its earnings release and other documents filed with the SEC. Members of management who are on the call today are Joe Coradino, PREIT’s Chairman and CEO; and Mario Ventresca, our CFO.

I’d now like to turn the call over to Joe Coradino.

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Heather, and good day, everyone. We’re nearly two months into 2020. And as we look back where we were a year ago, it feels a little different. We’re beginning to believe that the headwinds are slowly subsiding, and the work we’ve done positions us to capitalize on an improved operating environment. With last night’s earnings release, we announced completion of transactions, confirming that we were on our way to shoring up our balance sheet. The effort includes selling over $300 million in assets in the form of nonincome-producing land for multifamily and hotel densification, operating outparcels and sale leaseback of five mid-tier properties. We entered into this sale-leaseback transaction for five properties that will deliver $153.6 million in proceeds, netting approximately $57 million in liquidity. The transaction is structured as a 99-year lease with an option to repurchase.

The agreement also provides for release of parcels related to multifamily development and is subject to ongoing lease payments at 7% with annual escalations. The land sales represent Phase one of the multifamily densification plan. We have signed purchase and sale agreements with four buyers on seven properties for $125 million. This phase will include 3,450 of the 5,000 to 7,000 units that are buildable. Upon receipt of entitlements, we’ll close on these land sales, which will allow us to reduce our leverage levels. Note that this represents only half of our land available for densification, and we expect to monetize the balance as part of Phase 2. Additionally, the company has two hotels and 12 additional outparcels under agreement of sale, which are expected to net an additional $12 million in liquidity. These transactions demonstrate our ability to efficiently access internally generated capital, and together with potential modifications to our credit facility covenants create the runway needed in order to complete execution of our business plan.

The company has had productive discussions with its lenders, with a goal of modifying its debt covenants in the short term, through September 30, 2020. To avoid covenant violations and ensure compliance with its obligations, the company is also in discussions to modify the terms of its debt agreements on a long-term basis. In the near term, we expect to experience stress against our leverage ratio, fixed charge coverage and our unencumbered debt yield covenants. And in abundance of caution, we notified you of potentially exceeding our covenant limits. However, while our ratios are tight right now, we’re currently in compliance with our loan covenants and expect to modify them by the end of March. The bank group has acknowledged the work we have done to shed noncore assets, including 18 underperforming malls to which we raised nearly $900 million. This capital was redeployed into our value-creating redevelopment program wherein we took action to aggressively reduce our exposure to department store consolidation. We have unquestionably differentiated our portfolio and are at the early stages of recognizing the benefit of our efforts.

We’ve created a company that can internally raise over $300 million, and we expect this to aid our discussions with the bank group, bringing about near-term resolution. We’re in a business that has, in the past few years, experienced volatility from a disruptive business model. There are and will always be retail bankruptcies, liquidations and closings, but we’ve taken proactive steps to manage the disruption. We sold underperforming properties. In those 18 malls that we disposed of, we have seen over 40 department stores closed. It would not have been prudent to allocate capital to assets when we pay it to obsolescence. Conversely, of Macy’s 125 announced store closings, we will have only one in our portfolio, a testimony to the quality of the portfolio we’ve created. Another step we took was diversifying our tenant base. In fact, today, 47% of our nonanchor space is leased to non-mall uses, including dining and entertainment, health and wellness and off-price merchants, which are traditionally found in open-air centers. These uses motivate the modern consumer and allow us to serve more customers.

As stewards of stakeholder capital, we firmly believe that serving the customer will enhance the value of our properties, benefiting all of our constituencies over the long term. We executed on this aspect of our plan by being the first to proactively take back department store space. We replaced 13 department stores in three years. Contrast this to our peers who are looking at well over two dozen vacant boxes. We’ve executed on this action plan deftly and have dramatically improved the credit of our underlying cash flow stream, having doubled our commitment from TJX, Burlington, Dave & Buster’s, Ardene and Regal since 2012. Given today’s announcement of over $300 million in capital-raising initiatives, our balance sheet is headed in the right direction. As we look toward 2020, we believe we are better positioned to deliver on expectations than in 2019. We recognize this is an optimistic view and at the same time, don’t think you’d want someone else sitting here on this call that doesn’t believe in the business. We’re on a mission to prove malls have a bright future.

We’re the sole operator of mass appeal, economically accessible retail and entertainment properties with admirable underlying demographics and high barrier-to-entry markets. And we are confident our position as an innovator at the forefront of shaping consumer experiences, positions us well as we move toward solid ground in retail. Fashion District Philadelphia, Mall at Prince Georges and Woodland Mall, our three high touch redevelopments, continue to generate interest from consumers and tenants at a rapid pace. Both Mall at Prince Georges and Woodland will be beneficiaries of our densification program. At Fashion District, traffic is robust with over 4.8 million shoppers since September 2019, as exciting tenants continue to open and build momentum with a 47,000 square foot industrious co-working facility next in line. The project is over 80% leased and 90% committed. Notable recent additions to the property include outlet tenants Armani Exchange and Eddie Bauer; full price retailers Sephora and Torrid; and experiential destinations, AMC Theaters, Round One, Wonderspaces and REC Philly. In the next few months, we will welcome more new to Philadelphia tenants, including Kate Spade, DSW, Windsor, YOYOSO and Clair de Lune.

These exciting retail brands will be joined by international fast fashion retailers, Primark and Ardene. At Woodland Mall, we continue to see traffic growth in the double digits, and so our comp stores pop up over 10% to over $600 per square foot, following the opening of the expansion wing in October. With the entire property benefiting from the sought-after additions, we expect the excitement will continue as we welcome Sephora and White House | Black market this spring. There continues to be a tremendous opportunity for this property to continue to exceed expectations as we deliver more aspirational brands, solidifying it as the winner of the consumer dollar in Grand Rapids. We have a number of anchor replacements still to come online this year with two Michaels stores opening at Plymouth Meeting and Moorestown malls, where they round out the former Macy’s stores.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will replace a former Sears at Valley Mall. Sales at the property are up 5.9% in 2019. This March, Burlington will replace Sears at Dartmouth Mall, another market-dominant asset that has come out the victor as two competing enclosed malls have closed in this market. We’re under way with releasing stores closed as a result of bankruptcy. We’ve executed or at lease to replace 93% of the space. Approximately half of the backfills are temporary, allowing us to capture upside as the environment improves. We are clear that nonanchor leasing is how we will ensure earnings growth gets back on track, and we’re up for the task of introducing new tenants and diverse uses throughout our portfolio.

And now I’ll turn the call over to Mario, who will discuss the quarter and our guidance in more detail. Mario?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Joe. From an operating perspective, the key themes that define this year’s performance continued to define our operating results for the fourth quarter. The rationalization of tenant store count through bankruptcies and store closings, completing our anchor replacement program and backfilling in line space. As a result of our anchor repositioning efforts, we benefited from the incremental revenues from tenants that have opened in 618,000 square feet since January 1, 2018. In the fourth quarter of 2019, these new tenants contributed a total of $1.5 million of new revenues to the portfolio and $3.4 million for the year. These tenants will contribute $7.5 million on an annualized basis. Our Core Mall portfolio, which contributes nearly 90% of our NOI, continues to deliver metrics that indicate stability and highlight the quality of our portfolio that we have created. From an occupancy perspective, we ended the year at 95.5% total, including anchors, and 92.9% for nonanchor space.

Average gross rents were just under $60 per square foot, and occupancy costs are reasonable, with room for improvement at 12.3%. Our comp sales are up 5.7% for the year, at an all-time high to $539 per square foot. Of note, we now have eight assets performing at over $500 per square foot and two assets over $700 per square foot. We outperformed the National Retail Federation holiday sales estimate, with sales growth of 4.2% over 2018’s November and December. This absolutely speaks to the positive consumer reception to our asset repositioning and anchor box replacement initiatives. We have 425,000 square feet of executed leases in our pipeline for future openings in our same-store portfolio, which will contribute $13.1 million of annualized revenues. This revenue will come online and hit our P&L toward the back half of the year and annualize into 2021. Renewal spreads have been driven by our wholly owned asset performance.

Our consolidated portfolio significantly outperformed our joint ventures, registering positive annual renewal spreads of 6.7% nonanchor under 10,000 square feet and 5.5% nonanchor over 10,000 square feet, as compared to negative 10.5% and flat, respectively, for the joint venture portfolio. We secured eight anchor renewals during the year comprising 807,000 square feet, bringing our total renewal activity to just under 1.6 million square feet of transactions. Our renewal leasing pipeline and activity is another indicator of significant positive momentum in, and retailer commitment to, our enclosed mall portfolio. Same-store NOI, excluding termination fees, fell outside of our previous guidance for 2019 due to the acceleration of rent relief for a large-format bankrupt tenant over what was previously projected. For the month of December, NOI, excluding termination fees for our wholly owned assets, increased by 0.30% for the month. This positive inflection point supports the guidance I will discuss later on the call. We reported FFO as adjusted of $0.34 per share compared to $0.51 in the prior period after accounting for the dilution from asset sales.

Last year’s fourth quarter included the incremental impact of land sale gains of approximately $0.10 per share. During the quarter, we closed on the sale of three outparcels to FCPT and the Woodland REI parcel was closed in January. In the fourth quarter, we also sold our last remaining undeveloped land parcel in our portfolio. During the quarter, we recorded the previously announced $2.7 million gain on sale of the three recently developed outparcels. We have not committed at this point to monetize any outparcels, other than the 12 we have under contract to be sold, but we believe these to be an attractive source of capital going forward. Let me now review our capital plan and provide some additional details on our earnings guidance. During the quarter, we spent $49.3 million on redevelopments and department store replacements, bringing the total spend to $183 million for the year. In 2020, we expect to spend approximately $100 million on our announced pipeline projects. We ended the year with $48 million of available liquidity.

Based on completed initiatives and those under way, we expect to generate an additional $113 million of liquidity during the year. Last night, we issued guidance and our underlying assumptions for 2020. We expect FFO as adjusted per share to be between $1.04 and $1.28. Our guidance includes a reserve of $2 million at the midpoint and $3 million at the low end for bankruptcies and store closings. We’ve assumed lease termination fees of between $1 million and $2 million with $1.5 million at the midpoint. In our 2020 guidance, we have assumed land sale gains of $14.4 million to $28.8 million as a result of our densification initiatives. Excluding these gains, FFO is expected to be $0.89 per share at the midpoint. The key drivers of the variance to 2019 FFO are: Higher interest expense as a result of increased borrowing and redevelopments being placed into service, which equates to $0.13 per share; the sale of outparcels, which were removed from same-store NOI in the amount of $0.015 a share.

These are partially offset by lower G&A of $0.04 per share and same-store NOI growth of $0.01 per share. We expect to realize $3.6 million of incremental revenues from our anchor replacement program in 2020. 2020 store openings, coupled with the annualization of rents from major tenants that opened last year are driving our performance. From a balance sheet perspective, we expect to invest approximately $100 million to complete our redevelopment pipeline. This consists mainly of the balance of spending at Fashion District and tenant-specific costs to complete our four Sears replacement projects at Woodland, Cap City, Dartmouth and Valley malls; our three ongoing Macy’s replacement projects at Valley, Plymouth Meeting and Moorestown Malls; and the cost to complete construction of the Studio Movie Grill at Willow Grove Park. As we work toward the completion of our 10-K, our auditors are reviewing our liquidity position and debt covenant compliance.

The current status of ongoing discussions with the bank group may impact the auditors’ opinion. As we said earlier, we are engaged in productive discussions with our bank group and fully expect that this will be resolved before the end of the first quarter. We are a company on the move with a positive trajectory. We have unquestionably improved our portfolio, and this progress is manifesting itself in our operating metrics. The progress announced on the capital raising front provides us with ample liquidity and will serve to increase balance sheet stability. This will provide the runway for the company to benefit from the valuable platform we have created.

And with that, we’ll open it up for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And your first question comes from the line of Christy McElroy with Citi.

Christy McElroyCiti — Analyst

It’s Michael Bilerman. And if I do accent, can I do like two questions and pretend to be like two people?

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

It depends what your first question is.

Christy McElroyCiti — Analyst

Right. I want to go back I wanted to start on the liquidity situation and really try to understand the board and management’s perspective regarding the dividend, which is and I respect that you have all these capital transactions that are working. But you’re in a position right now where even though you fully expect to get clearance on your covenants, you’re in a really tight position. And I’m struggling to understand why you would maintain 130%, 140% payout ratio this year based on the guidance, and not try to pay that dividend in stock, just to retain that capital to be able to execute what you need to execute. And that’s I’m just struggling really hard why you’ve maintained this dividend for the last three, four years, when you’ve been so tight, and now we’re going to be spending money for the dividend rather than retaining any free cash flow?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Well, one of the motivations in paying the dividend and by the way, we haven’t we thought long and hard about it, difficult decision, has been attempting to balance our share price in light of the disconnect in the public market pricing as a company. We recognize 20% is unusual. And we’ll continue to take that into consideration as we look at future dividend periods. But with $13 million in leases coming online and FDP stabilizing, our FFO payout ratio, net of land sales, is about 90%. On an AFFO basis, we’re at about 85%. But Michael, I mean, I don’t want to do anything other than appreciate the question and understand the point.

Christy McElroyCiti — Analyst

I mean, land sales are not core income, right? Dividend is generated from core operations. Land sales are helping you gain some liquidity from a debt perspective. I guess I’m still struggling to understand why maintaining a $0.21 quarterly dividend when your free cash flow before land sales is less than that, right? You’re increasing your leverage, even though I recognize it’s 80 million shares. And so the dividend is not massive. But you’re putting yourself more in a box for doing that. That’s why I struggle to really understand why even maintain it in the first quarter. The most recent dividend when it was going to be above 100%, excluding the land sales?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

I appreciate the point, and I think I’ve given you the answer to that. The board and our management has reach a decision based on.

Christy McElroyCiti — Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ki Bin Kim with SunTrust.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Thanks, Good morning, Joe I want to move back to the covenants. If you pursue the sales leaseback, I would think lenders would probably treat that as that, that will probably certainly push you over to limits. So it sounded like you’re pretty confident that you’ll get under modifications by the end of the first quarter, which is only a month away. So what are the kind of practical…

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Yes, let me give you let me sort of take a step back here. First, we’re in compliance with all of our covenants today. That’s first and foremost. We want it to be transparent, and we wanted to just lay it out there. It’s it probably will have a negative effect, but it’s something that we see a solution in the near term by the end of the month. We’ve been in ongoing discussions with our lenders. It’s a very positive discussion. We were in Charlotte on Monday and the meeting ended with the bankers, congratulating us on the work we’ve done on our portfolio.

We expect to bring it to resolution. I don’t really see the I mean, obviously, the transaction you’re speaking about will impact one of our covenants. But I think in the converse of that, it will bring in significant capital to the company. I know on one on your report, you mentioned that it was expensive capital. At 7%, we view that capital as not dissimilar to a 5% loan with 20-year amortization.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Yes. So before I get to that point, would the lenders require a higher interest rate? Is that the likely outcome? Is that in your guidance as well?

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, at this point, we’re not prepared to discuss the terms of our agreement with the lenders. But we fully expect it to bring it to resolution.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Okay. And when we wrote that it was expensive cost of capital, we’re comparing it to the relative other options you have available, like cutting the dividend, which brings me to my second question. I’m just really trying to understand the rationale for keeping that dividend. Is it because, at this point, given where the equity markets are and how they’re treating malls and Penn REI stock, from a real practical standpoint, the possibility of a shareholder return without a cash-in-hand dividend deals fairly limited, is that the primary reason to keep that dividend? Because at some point, there’s going to be a tipping point where it’s less about shareholders and dividends and more about company growing concern and employees and things like that. So I’m just kind of curious about when you reach that tipping point?

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, no, to your question, is that the reason behind it. And I think I answered this question for Michael. I mean, essentially, we saw a disconnect between our share price and the value we’ve created. And we kept the dividend in place. As we move forward, we understand it is a it’s a pretty high coupon, and it’s something we’ll take into consideration with our Board certainly prior to the next dividend payment.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Okay, thanks.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Mike Mueller with JPMorgan.

Mike MuellerJPMorgan — Analyst

Yeah, A couple of questions. I guess first of all, you talked about capex spend of $125 million to $150 million this year. Some of that is tied to redevelopment. I guess what’s the split between recurring and redevelopment? And then, I guess, if we look at Page eight of the sup, with the detailed guidance breakdown, how do you have ongoing redevelopment activities, but your capex goes to 0 on Jan one or your capitalized interest goes to zero on Jan 1?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Mike, it’s Mario. The split between the two capital numbers, we’ve proactively managed our capital expenditure program, looking forward into 2020, when we prepared the 2019 budget. Recurring, 10 allowances are roughly $20 million, plus or minus. Recurring capex was somewhere in the $6 million to $8 million range.

Mike MuellerJPMorgan — Analyst

Okay. So if you have, call it, $30 million of recurring, $100 million to $125 million of redevelopment, development, what is your capitalized interest go away completely in 2019, or 2020?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

We’re essentially we’ve been capitalizing the interest on the redevelopment spend. You’ll see it in the 2019 representation on the guidance. It was roughly $13 million. We expect to bring all of the projects that are currently under redevelopment into placed into service during the year with Dartmouth in the beginning of the year, with the Burlington open and through midyear with Studio Movie Grill, which is expected to open late in the first half of this year.

Mike MuellerJPMorgan — Analyst

Okay. So literally, the beginning in the first quarter, it goes to 0 then is the way to think of it?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Yes.

Mike MuellerJPMorgan — Analyst

Okay. And then, I guess, on the sale-leaseback transaction, can you give us a sense as to what sort of investor did that transaction with. I think you said it was five mid-tier malls. Any color on what those malls were?

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

We I mean, it’s essential. Mike, this is Joe. I mean it’s essentially a well-capitalized fund that has done this sort of thing before. And someone we believe is we’ve had this deal in hand for months and really sat on it and thought about it and sat on it and thought about it and signed a day before yesterday. We think it will be a relatively 60, 90 days, maybe 120 at the outside to closing.

Operator

And your last question comes from the line of Christy McElroy with Citi.

Christy McElroyCiti — Analyst

Great. So I wanted to just sort of come back to sort of the dealing with your covenants and your lease, the lender modification at least for the release, it sounds like that’s only a short-term modification up until September. And obviously, you have these liquidity transactions that are still subject to due diligence, customary closing conditions, securing entitlements, so that capital that I would say is at risk, right, those deals are not closed yet. You get to September 20, things may not be better. You have massive amount of maturities coming in 2021 and ’22 as a percentage of your total. I guess how should we think about everything what’s going on…

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

You should think about it as we’re we have already begun discussing the long-term transaction and anticipate having that in place well before that expiration.

Christy McElroyCiti — Analyst

And how should we think about the security or the cost of thing to these transactions?

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Given the fact that we’re in the midst of a negotiation right now. I’d rather not discuss the terms of the transaction.

Operator

And your next question comes from Vince Tibone with Green Street Advisor.

Vince TiboneGreen Street Advisor — Analyst

Hi, good morning. Just one more on the covenant point here. I’m just curious if you see as part of the long-term solution, a potential equity raise being required either by the lenders? Or is that something you would consider to get under compliance on a longer-term basis?

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

It’s not under consideration at this point. Remember, there’s a couple of things, I think that, first off, $300 million-plus is a significant amount of capital in our our foreseeable capital expenditures are closer to $100 million. But also the residential piece is Phase 1, so there is a second comparably sized transaction out there that we have the ability to call on. And also, we’ve sold off about $30 million in outparcels or we sold off $10 million, we’re about to close on an additional $20 million with FCPT. We as we have taken back these anchors, one of the advantages of doing that is when you take back the anchors, you no longer need anchor approval to put in outparcels. So we’ve created significant inventory at this point of outparcels.

So we have significant levers at our disposal through the multifamily and the outparcels, to bring any, sort of, organically created additional capital and don’t really see an equity raise in our future at this point. I mean maybe all the analysts on the call, give us a buy rating as a result of the capital we raised, and we’ll be able to see a significant increase in the share price. But short of that, I think, right now, we’re going to focus on raising capital organically.

Vince TiboneGreen Street Advisor — Analyst

Got it. And then one on the sale-leaseback transaction. So the initial rent payment looks like it’s just shy of $11 million. What’s the coverage on that in terms of what those properties are generating from an NOI perspective? And just in terms of, maybe, let’s say, a downsize scenario potentially. If these product malls start to deteriorate and let’s say, the NOI declines below the ground lease payment, is there any put option on this type of transaction that there would be with a secured mortgage debt? Or how would that work, let’s say, if the NOI at a property fell below the rent payment, are you still obligated at the corporate level to pay that rent payment? Is there any ability to almost just put back the mall to them? If you could just maybe talk about both those factors a little bit, that would be helpful.

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Yes, Vince, I don’t want to get into too many of the details. The buyer is in due diligence at this point. Although they’ve visited all the properties, and they’re very comfortable with the real estate, I mean, we talked about the quality of the assets that these that the fee sale will apply to. These are solid middle market, and actually one asset located outside of Philadelphia and Moorestown, New Jersey. We have Valley Mall, where we just invested significant capital. The payments, as you said, are about $11 million, 10.75 on the 7%. We have an option to repurchase the land underlying the properties. There is no put at this point in time or included in the transaction. But they’re really the details that we’re prepared to discuss at this point.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ki Bin Kim with SunTrust.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Thanks. Can you just provide some more details around the sales-leaseback transaction and multifamily land sales? Just curious about the language. Obviously, whole deals are subject to due diligence and other conditions. But I’m just curious if this is something new? Or if this is the same thing that we’ve been expecting from Penn REI for the past couple of quarters. So I guess I’m just asking about the certainty for both transactions.

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Let me take a step back. We have been talking about it for some quarters. We decided to create a very competitive process with respect to the multifamily. And so we went out to a number of bidders. I think at one point, we had as many as 30 CAs signed for the seven properties. Went through a very exhaustive process to reach a conclusion. And the our expectation is that this will about half of them will close this year, about half next year, just generally speaking. As you think about entitlements, both Springfield Town Center and Mall at Prince Georges are entitled. And several of the other properties, we started the entitlement process in some cases, over one year ago, maybe two years, and we’re fairly well along.

On one of them, we received the first vote this week. Are expecting approval in two weeks. So we’re well along on the multifamily transactions and continue to sort of create to have that be a priority. As a result, as it relates to the sale leaseback, I mean, it’s just customary due diligence that anyone who is making $153 million investment, we want to do on the assets. And without giving the list of assets, we have a pretty high degree of comfort to that, that will come to closing. I just want to go back for one minute. On the multifamily, two of the properties are is a repeat buyer that we’ve done business with in the past. And we again, we have a pretty high degree of certainty that we’ll bring these transactions to closure. Is that helpful?

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

When you it does. But just to clarify one more thing. You said half will close well, you expect half to close this year, half to close next year. The $125.3 million, is that for both this year and next year? Or is that just reflecting…

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

You’d split that in half.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

The gains in guidance and the gains in guidance for this year reflects half or that reflects I’m just curious about the because it sounds like you’re spreading it over two years. But the gain from guidance, is that half the gains? Or is that for both in total?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

So we have, as Joe said, we have half the parcels closing in the latter half of this year, Ki Bin. So there would be three closing this year and three closing next year in 2021.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Okay. And just wanting to go back to the sales leaseback. What quality or grouping of malls are the five assets behind the ground lease? Would it be your Tier one group or Tier two or three?

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Ki Bin, I think we’ve made the point that it’s a group of middle of the portfolio assets. I don’t want to give a list at this point.

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Okay. And just last question for me. Why is your share count a little bit higher in your 2020 guidance versus where you ended the year in 2019?

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

It’s a function of two things. It’s the dividend reinvestment plan and the employee incentive compensation rolling into next year or into this year actually.

Operator

And there are no further questions. I would like to turn the call back to the presenters for any closing comments.

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you all for being on the call today. We’ll continue to keep you updated on our progress to our balance sheet stability. From an operating perspective, we’re proud of the portfolio we’ve created. And we believe we’ve taken the right steps to get here. Thank you all again for being on the call, and have a good day.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks].

Duration: 42 minutes

Call participants:

Heather CrowellExecutive Vice President Strategy & Communications

joseph f. CoradinoChairman & Chief Executive Officer

Mario VentrescaExecutive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Christy McElroyCiti — Analyst

Ki Bin KimSunTrust — Analyst

Mike MuellerJPMorgan — Analyst

Vince TiboneGreen Street Advisor — Analyst

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Why you should start investing today

Investing can be an intimidating word and concept for many reasons. There are a large amount of terms, tax implications, planning and investments to understand — along with knowing there will be market fluctuations making your net worth go up and down. But by understanding the mere basics, you can begin to grow your wealth quickly.

Corbin Blackwell CFP, senior financial planner at wealth management app Betterment, told Select that, “Investing is one of the best ways to grow your long-term wealth and reach major goals for things like retirement, buying a home and college funds.”

He also said that beginning the investing journey is often the most difficult part, as growth will be limited at first. He added that, “Tools available today, like digital investment advisors, make it easier than ever to get started.”

And by getting started today, you have the best asset that any investor can have on their side: time.

By letting your money sit in the market longer, you allow for compound interest to take over — which is when your interest and gains stack on top of one another. Blackwell gives an excellent example of the power of compound interest:

“Let’s say you invested just $100 today and saw a 5% annual return – thanks to the power of compound interest, if you don’t touch your investment, in 30 years you’d have $430.”

That’s an ok return, but imagine if you invested $100 monthly for 30 years into a common index fund. An index fund is a fund that has a group of companies within it, and tracks the performance of the entire group. These groups can range in focus including the size of each company, the respective industries, location of the companies, type of investment and more. One of the most popular indices, the S&P 500, consists of the 500 largest companies in the United States, making it a relatively safe investment because of its exposure to hundreds of companies and dozens of industries.

Many consider this a ‘boring investment,’ but the results the index has produced are nothing to balk at.

The average yearly return of the S&P 500 over the last 30 years is 10.7%, but even at a conservative return of 8%, you would have over $146,000 if you invest $100 a month for 30 years. The impressive part is that your total contributions would be $36,000, which means your money would have quadrupled in value in 30 years (note that past performance does not guarantee future success).

In short, the more money and more time you have in the market, the more likely you are to grow your investment funds.

How to begin investing

If growing your net worth is your goal, you can get started in just a few minutes. Here are a few things to consider:

Build a budget that works for you

Starting to invest with a small amount of money isn’t an issue. However, it’s important to know how much you can afford to invest, as you don’t want to harm your personal finances in the process. Blackwell urged, “as long as you aren’t using money [to invest] that you need to cover day to day expenses such as food, rent and high interest debt payments, I recommend you start investing.”

A budget gives you a way to see where your money is going each month, where you can possibly cut back and how much you can invest each month. You can set up a budget for yourself using a budgeting app, a spreadsheet or even a simple pen and paper. I use Personal Capital to manage my budget because I’m able to track my expenses and monitor the performance of my investments in one convenient app.

Regardless of which budgeting method works best for you, it’s important to have an established budget to understand how much you can invest each month without cutting into the money allocated towards your monthly essentials.

Select an investing “bucket” and investments

There are many different buckets you can fill with money, such as a Roth IRA, HSA, 529 or taxable brokerage account. Each of these accounts serve a different purpose and have different tax implications, so be sure to select one that makes sense for you. For example, a Roth IRA is great if you plan on being in a higher tax bracket when you retire — you’ll contribute after-tax income but all gains are tax-free after 59 and a half years old.

Once you select the type of account you want to invest within, you then must decide what type of investment to put your money into. This is the puzzling part for many, as there are an abundance of options, from ETFs to viral meme stocks to index funds and many more in-between.

For long term investors, index funds are a great solution as they have low fees, are low maintenance, provide wide exposure and many provide stable returns. In fact, John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, summarizes the effectiveness of index funds in one analogy: “Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack.”

Regardless of which investment you choose, it’s important to evaluate your risk-tolerance and understand what you’re investing in. Be sure to do your own research, and potentially connect with an accredited financial advisor to discuss the best options.

Automate your investing

Once you determine how much you can and want to invest each month, it’s important to turn on auto-investing.

This is where money is taken out of your checking account each month and automatically deposited into your choice of investments. Choosing this option is important because it takes the leg work away from needing to invest each month. Additionally, studies show that we are built for ‘present bias‘ — which is the idea that the farther away something is, the less important it is. Essentially, it’s much easier to spend now, rather than save for later. Automating transfers from your checking account or paycheck into an investment account will help ensure you don’t spend money that you were planning on investing.

By automating your investments, you will be passively growing your nest egg and getting yourself closer to reaching your financial goals.

You may also want to consider a robo-advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront. Robo-advisors work by gathering information from you on your financial situation and investing goals to suggest investments that fit your needs and risk tolerance. After supplying this information, the robo-advisor will build you a portfolio based on your answers through computer algorithms and advanced software, with little to no work on your end. Plus, it will rebalance your investments over time based on your goals and changes in the market.

Best brokerages to get started

To begin investing, you’ll need to select a brokerage account provider. These brokerages serve as the intermediary between you and the seller of the stock or security you want to purchase.

When deciding on the best brokerage for you, be sure to consider these factors:

  • Fees: These can range from minimum deposits, stock trade fees, mutual fund trade fees and more. Be sure to select a no- or low-fee brokerage.
  • Ease of use: Each brokerage has a different website and mobile app. While this is much more subjective, it’s advantageous to use a brokerage with a web interface and experience you understand and enjoy.
  • Promotions: From time to time, brokerages will offer bonuses to new users. For example, I recently signed up for a Fidelity brokerage account and earned a $100 bonus after depositing $50.

Below are a few of our favorite online brokerages:

Fidelity

Information about Fidelity accounts has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Fees/commissions

    $0 for stocks, ETFs, options and some mutual funds

  • Account minimum

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, fractional shares, ETFs, mutual funds, options

Pros

  • Some ETFs don’t have expense ratios
  • Mobile app is easy to use
  • No commissions on many types of securities

Cons

  • No futures or forex trading
  • High fees for broker assisted trades

TD Ameritrade

  • Fees/commissions

    $0 commission on stocks, options and ETFs

  • Account minimum

  • Investment options

    Includes stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, Forex, and futures

Pros

  • Excellent customer service
  • Intuitive trading platform
  • Large selection of mutual funds

Cons

  • Some mutual funds charge high commissions
  • Free research may not all be relevant to novice investors
  • Doesn’t offer fractional shares of stocks

Vanguard

Information about the Vanguard accounts has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Fees/commissions

  • Account minimum

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, CDs

Pros

  • Excellent customer service
  • One of the largest ETF and mutual funds offerings around
  • Large number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

Cons

  • $20 annual fee for IRAs and brokerage accounts, though investors can waive this fee by opting into paperless statements
  • Basic trading platform only
  • No robust research and data tools

Bottom line

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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Investment

Increased scrutiny will make greenwashing tougher – Investment Executive

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The global conversation around climate and social issues will make engaging in greenwashing more difficult, says Jacob Hegge, an investment specialist with J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Hegge said the growing popularity of bonds that focus on environment, social and governance (ESG) excellence is helping to identify bad-faith players who try to appear more conscientious than they are.

He allowed that investing in green initiatives can be confusing, given unclear and sometimes conflicting definitions, but standardization is coming.

“It’s great to see all the activity around ESG, but a consequence of this increased activity means a greater dispersion in terminology,” he said. “As ESG investing continues to grow, we’d expect to see more standardization. But until then, it’s important to understand that navigating the landscape can be difficult.”

Hegge said investors should test the terminology used to define green projects.

“Is the data or testing methodology readily available for investors to use? Is it easy to understand? Are the definitions explained and easily accessible? These are things investors need to be looking out for,” he said. “It comes down to transparency and consistency. And as ESG investing continues to grow globally, we expect this standardization to be more prominent in the market.”

The hot ESG market makes it all the more necessary for investors to know what they’re buying, Hegge said. “We do think it’s important for investors to look under the hood and pay attention to what investment firms are saying when they title a fund as being ESG. They really need to make sure that investment products are staying true to the prospectus.”

Hegge said green and sustainability-linked bonds are being issued at record levels, and issues are likely to increase.

“This year alone, green social sustainability and sustainability-linked bonds are expected to reach a combined issuance of over a trillion [U.S. dollars], which is doubled compared to last year,” he said. “And … some expect that investment in green bonds will actually double and reach US$1 trillion for the first time in a single year by the end of next year.”

Hegge said many companies are at the beginning of their green journeys, and their success in meeting ambitious targets will reflect their commitment level.

“Don’t narrow your opportunity set by being put off by low ESG scores. The important part is whether these scores are improving over time. You can find sustainable bonds even if they don’t have a sustainable label in the market,” he said.

“The global fixed-income market is very large and there are a lot of opportunities out there.”

**

This article is part of the Soundbites program, sponsored by Canada Life. The article was written without sponsor input.

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Halifax's Skinfix Secures Major Investment – Huddle Today

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HALIFAX—Halifax beauty company Skinfix has secured investment from a big name in the beauty world; Stride Consumer Partners has announced a minority investment in the company.

The deal is the first investment from the new private equity firm, which was started by a former team from Castanea Partners. Castanea is known for investing in and exiting with well-known beauty brands like Urban Decay, First Aid Beauty, and Tatcha.

The terms of the investment were not disclosed but the news comes as Skinfix is in the middle of a massive growth year. According to CEO Amy Gordinier, the company has grown by 300 percent in 2021, compared to last year.

In an interview with Huddle, Gordinier said she’s thrilled to “bring an investor to the table that has deep beauty experience” and put Skinfix in a position to scale even more quickly.

From Kitchen Table To Sephora

Gordinier founded Skinfix in 2014, after meeting the great-great-granddaughter of an English pharmacist. The woman, Karen Warren, was using a 150-year-old formula to make a skin balm in her kitchen.

Gordinier rebranded the balm and helped Skinfix expand into a host of products like its Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide line and Resurface+ line.

In 2019, the company officially launched in Sephora and quickly became one of the beauty giant’s best-selling skincare brands.

RELATED: How Skinfix Is Taking The Skincare World By Storm From Halifax

Gordinier says that journey makes Skinfix a fitting first investment for Stride.

“Some of these folks, through Castena, invested and exited some big names in the beauty industry. So, they have really good experience in scaling brands of this size and recognizing brands that have a lot of potential,” she said.

Gordinier says she’s excited to draw from Stride’s experienced team to help scale and market Skinfix.

She said Sephora will remain Skinfix’s primary customer and focus but that she sees a big opportunity in the direct-to-consumer market.

“Just investing a little bit of money and effort into our DTC we’ve almost tripled it year on year, so there’s tremendous potential with our DTC business that just requires an investment,” she said.

Along with more focus on its DTC market, Gordinier said Skinfix will also enter a new product category in January when it launches a line of acne products.

RELATED: Nearly $2 Million For Four Halifax Startups

Building A Global Brand From Atlantic Canada Is Possible

Gordinier said Skinfix’s quick growth, and the interest it has attracted from big-name investors like Stride, is proof that an Atlantic Canadian company can compete on the global stage.

“These folks are in beauty and private equity and consumer private equity in the US, and seeing hundreds of opportunities. And they chose Skinfix as their first and only investment so far—and their processes is pretty rigorous,” she said.

“I think it’s exciting for the region, and for aspiring entrepreneurs, and I think it just sort of reinforces that we need to think globally and consider ourselves worthy of attention.”

She encouraged other Nova Scotian companies to “think outside of Canada.”

“Hopefully [what we’ve done] helps to inspire people to think big and to go for it,” she said.

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