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EPR Properties (NYSE:EPR) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript

EPR Properties (NYSE:EPR) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript May 2, 2024

EPR Properties isn't one of the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds at the end of the third quarter (see the details here).

Operator: Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Q1 2024 EPR Properties Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the speaker's presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Please be advised that today's conference is being recorded. I would now like to hand your conference over to your first speaker today, Brian Moriarty, Senior VP of Corporate Communications. Brian, the floor is yours.

Brian Moriarty: Thank you, Stacey. Thanks for joining us today for our first quarter 2024 earnings call and webcast. Participants on today's call are Greg Silvers, Chairman and CEO; Greg Zimmerman, Executive Vice President and CIO; and Mark Peterson, Executive Vice President and CFO. I'll start the call by informing you that this call may include forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Act of 1995, identified by such words as will be intend, continue, believe, may, expect, hope, anticipate, or other comparable terms. The company's actual financial condition and the results of operations may vary materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. Discussion of those factors that could cause the results to differ materially from those forward-looking statements, are contained in the company's SEC filings, including the company's reports on Form 10-K and 10-Q.

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Additionally, this call will contain references to certain non-GAAP measures we believe are useful in evaluating the company's performance. A reconciliation of these measures for the most directly comparable GAAP measures are included in today's earnings release and supplemental information furnished to the SEC under Form 8-K. If you wish to follow along, today's earnings release, supplemental, and earnings call presentation are all available on the Investor Center page of the company's website, www.eprkc.com. Now, I'll turn the call over to Greg Silvers.

Gregory Silvers: Thank you, Brian. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on today's first quarter 2024 earnings call and webcast. In the first quarter, we were pleased to continue the momentum established during the fourth quarter of 2023, executing investment spending across our target experiential property types. Our coverage levels remain strong, and we believe are indicative of the resiliency of the experiences our customers offer. The box office remains in line with our expectations, and we look forward to seeing the results of the coming months as key titles come out. More broadly, I'd like to highlight some of the significant strides made to our overall value proposition as we move into 2024. Strengthen experiential portfolio.

We have continued to diversify and strengthen our portfolio of experiential properties. As evidenced by our coverage metrics, we remain focused on growing an experiential portfolio that is built for the long run and is able to sustain various economic cycles. Expanded Investment Opportunity Set. While we are currently constrained in our capital deployment, we have been actively cultivating our unique relationships and exploring new potential investments that align with our experiential portfolio. This work provides a foundation for future investments and growth in our portfolio. Economically rationalized theater exhibition business. We saw a strong rebound in the box office last year. And while we anticipate that the 2024 box office will be slightly down versus 2023, we know that this is driven by delays in titles as opposed to consumer demand and that 2025 looks excellent.

Additionally, we firmly believe that the debate around streaming versus theater exhibition for movies has been resolved. As studios look for high potential ROI on movie production costs, theater exhibition remains the essential primary distribution channel, with streaming complementing the ecosystem downstream. A high quality balance sheet, our balance sheet coupled with significant free cash flow allows us to fund our anticipated investment spending, while also supporting a well-covered monthly dividend. And we are committed to sustaining these important attributes as we work toward an improved cost of capital. Finally, as we've stated previously, we're working diligently to control the factors that we can control. While macroeconomic factors can and have had a significant impact on our business, we continue to focus on being positioned for success.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Greg Zimmerman to go over the business in greater detail.

Gregory Zimmerman: Thanks, Greg. At the end of the quarter, our total investments were approximately $6.9 billion, with 358 properties that are 99% leased, excluding properties we intend to sell. During the quarter, our investment spending was $85.7 million. 100% of the spending was in our experiential portfolio. Our experiential portfolio comprises 288 properties with 51 operators and accounts for 93% of our total investments or approximately $6.4 billion. And at the end of the quarter, excluding the properties we intend to sell was 99% leased. Our education portfolio comprises 70 properties with eight operators. And at the end of the quarter, excluding the properties we intend to sell was 100% leased. Turning to coverage, the most recent data provided is based on a December trailing 12 month period.

Overall portfolio coverage for the trailing 12 months continues to be strong at 2.2 times. Trailing 12 month coverage for theaters is 1.7 times with box office at $8.9 billion for the same period. Our theater coverage reporting assumes that the Regal deal was in place for the entire trailing 12-month period. Trailing 12-month coverage for the non-theater portion of our portfolio is 2.6 times. Now I'll update you on the operating status of our tenants. Our theater coverage is at 2019 levels, even though North American box office remains well below 2019 levels. We continue to see sustained increases in food and beverage spending and spending on premium large format screens. Our portfolio is well positioned to benefit from these trends and importantly the box office generated from our high quality theater portfolio continues to outperform the industry.

Turning to box office in the state of the industry. Q1 North American box office was $1.6 billion. While Q1 performance was down 6.6% from Q1 2023, as a result of strong performances by Dune: Part Two, Kung Fu Panda 4, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, March's $739 million gross exceeded March 2023 by 17.4%. To date, 10 films have grossed more than $60 million in 2024. These results once again demonstrate consumers want to see good films on the big screen. Box office gross is directly tied to the number of titles released and we remain optimistic that as the year progresses more titles than anticipated will be released as studios ramp up production coming out of the delays caused by the writers and actor strikes.

April is down somewhat because of a lack of titles, but we expect a return to stronger cadence in May, continuing throughout the remainder of the year with titles including IF, Inside Out 2, and Deadpool & Wolverine. With this, we reaffirm our previous estimate of between $8 billion and $8.4 billion for calendar year 2024. While it's too early to provide estimates for 2025, we are confident it will be a significant improvement over both 2023 and 2024. Turning now to an update on our other major customer groups. We continue to see good results in ongoing consumer demand across all segments of our drive-to value-oriented destinations. As has been the case for several quarters, increases in fixed costs, including labor, insurance, and taxes, continue to pressure EBITDARM for many of our operators.

Likewise, in some locations, we continue to see some pullback in attendance from post-COVID highs. Nonetheless, our non-theater coverage remains healthy at 2.6 times, the same as we reported on our Q3 and Q4 calls. Our eat & play assets continue good performance, with portfolio EBITDARM up 6% in Q1 2024 over Q1 2023. After completing four refreshes in 2023 that they funded, Topgolf will fund refreshes at three more of our units in 2024. A number of our attractions were closed seasonally in Q1. Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, Michigan opened the first phase of its family entertainment center in Q4 with a rope course and climbing wall scheduled to open in Q2. The full project, including the 100,000 square foot indoor water park, will open in late 2024.

The new offerings are beginning to drive revenue and EBITDARM growth. Our fitness assets continue to show membership growth. Even while under construction for an extensive expansion project scheduled to open in spring 2025, our Springs Resort in Pagosa Springs continues its ADR growth. We're confident the expansion will drive growth at this outstanding asset. Ski results for the season were solid, despite weather-based attendance challenges everywhere but Alaska. In general, pass sales across a portfolio offset any weather issues. Our Alyeska Resort benefited from an above average snowfall and the introduction of the icon pass. Hotel room renovations are complete at Alyeska, with restaurant and lobby renovations expected to be completed by year end.

Our significant expansion at the Jellystone Kozy Rest RV Park north of Pittsburgh is 90% complete. And with the substantial improvements, we anticipate increases in revenue and EBITDARM. Both the Margaritaville Nashville Hotel and our Camp Margaritaville RV Resort and Lodge in Pigeon Forge continue to perform very well. We have seen some softness in ADR at the St. Petersburg market, which was negatively impacted our Bellwether & Beachcomber Resorts. Our education portfolio continues to perform well with year-over-year increases across the portfolio through Q4 of 6% in revenue and 13% in EBITDARM. As we indicated last year, our KinderCare portfolio was subject to a rent reset retroactive to January 1st, but calculated in the first quarter. We have reached in an overall agreement with KinderCare to reset the rent.

A modern REIT building with a bright and inviting entrance.
A modern REIT building with a bright and inviting entrance.

As we anticipated, our overall rent increased by approximately $1 million, and we will receive one location back at the end of the quarter, which we are actively marketing. We have sold four of the five KinderCare locations we took back last year. During Q1 our investment spending was $85.7 million. We closed on the $33.4 million acquisition of Enchanted Forest - Water Safari in Old Forge, New York in a sale lease back transaction and established a relationship with attractions operator new to EPR. Enchanted Forest - Water Safari is a four-season resort in the heart of the Adirondacks with the largest water park in New York, amusement rides, a hotel, private lake, RV sites and cabins, and access to hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails. We also extended our relationship with Andretti Karting, closing on two new build-to-suit locations.

As we announced on the year-end call, we provided build-to-suit financing for our sixth Andretti Karting location, this one in the greater Kansas city area. The total commitment is $35 million with $8.8 million funded at closing. After our year-end call, we also closed on a $5.8 million loan to Andretti to acquire land in Schaumburg, Illinois for another build-to-suit Andretti Karting location. Upon finalization of a construction contract and completion of due diligence items, the mortgage will be converted to a triple net lease with funding capped at $38 billion. Cap rates for these deals exceeded 8%, creating compelling long-term value. We're maintaining investment spending guidance for funds to be deployed in 2024 in a range of $200 million to $300 million.

Through quarter end, we have committed approximately $220 million for experiential development and redevelopment projects that have been closed but are not yet funded to be deployed over the next two years. We anticipate approximately $111 million of the $220 million will be deployed in 2024, which amount is included at the midpoint of our 2024 guidance range. In most of our experiential categories, we continue to see high-quality opportunities for both acquisition and build-to-suit redevelopment and expansion. We have a robust pipeline with new and existing customers and concepts. Given our cost of capital, we will continue to maintain discipline and to fund those investments primarily from cash on hand, cash from operations, proceeds from dispositions, and with our borrowing availability under our unsecured revolving credit facility.

Turning to a quick update on capital recycling. As we announced on our year-end call, in Q1, we sold both of our Titanic Museums in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri, to a private equity firm at a 6% cap rate on in-place income for a combined $45 million in net proceeds and a gain on sale of approximately $17 million. The cap rate and gain demonstrate the value of our experiential investments. We also sold the third of our vacant former Regal theaters for $1.2 million and a gain of approximately $900,000. We have eight remaining to sell with signed purchase and sale agreements for three of those eight. Beyond the eight vacant former Regal theaters, we have one remaining vacant AMC theater and a vacant Xscape theatre we terminated in Q4.

We are maintaining our 2024 disposition guidance in the range of $50 million to $75 million. I now turn it over to Mark for a discussion of the financials.

Mark Peterson: Thank you, Greg. Today I will discuss our financial performance for the first quarter, provide an update on our balance sheet, and close with an update on 2024 guidance. FFO as adjusted for the quarter with $1.13 per share versus $1.26 in the prior year. And AFFO for the quarter was $1.12 per share compared to $1.30 in the prior year. Note that, out-of-period deferral collections from cash basis customers included in income were $0.6 million for the quarter versus $6.5 million in the prior year, resulting in a decrease of $0.08 per share versus prior year. Now moving to the key variances, total revenue for the quarter was $167.2 million versus $171.4 million in the prior year. Within total revenue, rental revenue decreased by $9.3 million versus the prior year.

The positive impact of net investment spending in the current quarter and prior year was more than offset by the reduction in out-of-period deferral collections that I just mentioned, as well as a reduction in rental revenue related to the Regal restructuring that took place in August of 2023. Additionally, percentage rents for the quarter increased slightly to $1.9 million versus $1.8 million in the prior year. Recall that percentage rent is expected to be recognized for the first time later this year for theaters under the Regal Master Lease. Based on the current film slate, we expect that all of this percentage rent will be recognized in July of Q3, the last month of the lease year. The increase in mortgage and other financing income of $2.4 million was due to additional investments in mortgage notes in the current quarter and prior year.

Both other income and other expense relate primarily to our consolidated operating properties including the Cartwright Hotel and Indoor Water Park and seven operating theaters. The increase in other income and other expense compared to the prior year was due primarily to the additional five theaters surrendered by and previously leased to Regal, which have been operated by third parties on EPR's behalf since early August of 2023. On the expense side, the following three items are excluded from FFO's adjusted, but I would like to give some details on the increases over prior year. First, retirement and severance expenses for the quarter of $1.8 million related primarily to a previously announced executive retirement. Second, the increase in provision for credit losses of $2.2 million is due to applying the credit loss accounting standard to our portfolio mortgage notes, including the impact from additional investments funded in the quarter and commitments, as well as the impact of changes in the macroeconomic environment.

And third, the gain on sale of real estate of $17.9 million for the quarter is primarily attributable to the sale of the two cultural properties that Greg mentioned in his comments. Lastly, FFOs adjusted from joint ventures for the quarter decreased by $1.3 million versus the prior year due to softer performance at our experiential lodging properties in St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition, while the first quarter of the year is the off-season for our RV parks, these properties had increases in expenses versus the prior year. Turning to the next slide, I'll reviewed some of the company's key credit ratios. As you can see, our coverage ratios continue to be strong with fixed charge coverage at 3.1 times and both interest and debt service coverage ratios at 3.6 times.

Our net debt to adjusted EBITDAre was 5.5 times for the quarter. However, net debt to annualized adjusted EBITDAre, a better measure of leverage was 5.2 times or about 30 basis points lower. Annualized adjusted EBITDAre includes the annualization of investments put in service acquired or disposed of during the quarter, as well as the expected earnings on property under development, the annualization of percentage rents, and adjustments for other items. Additionally, our net debt to gross assets was 39% on a book basis at March 31st. Lastly, we increased our common dividend by 3.6% beginning with the dividend that was paid in April. Our common dividend continued to be very well covered with an AFFO payout ratio for the first quarter of 75%. Now, let's move to our balance sheet, which is in great shape.

At quarter end, we had consolidated debt of $2.8 billion, all of which is either fixed rate debt or debt that has been fixed through interest rate swaps with a blended coupon of approximately 4.3%. Additionally, our weighted average consolidated debt maturity is four years with only $136.6 million due in August 2024, which we anticipate paying off using our line of credit. We had $59.5 million of cash on hand at quarter end and no balance drawn on our $1 billion revolver, which positions us well given the continued difficult backdrop of the capital markets. We are confirming our previously announced 2024 FFOs adjusted per share guidance of 476 to 496, an investment spending guidance of $200 million to $300 million. We are also confirming the guidance we previously provided for certain other categories.

Note that about 75% to 80% of our total anticipated percentage rent is expected to be recognized in the back half of the year. Guidance details can be found on page 24 of our supplemental. On the next slide, I wanted to illustrate, as I did last quarter, the anticipated impact on growth and FFOs adjusted per share for 2024 at the midpoint of guidance when you remove the impact of out-of-period cash basis deferral collections from 2023 of $36.4 million, or $0.48 per share, and the amount we collected of such amounts in the first quarter of $0.6 million, or $0.01 per share, which is all that we anticipate collecting for this year. As you can see on the schedule, FFOs adjusted per share growth without deferral collections from 2023 to 2024 is expected to be 3.2%.

Effective growth is just over 4% when also excluding the impact of lease termination fees recognized in 2023 of $3.4 million. Now with that, I'll turn it back over to Greg for his closing remarks.

Gregory Silvers: Thank you, Mark. As we are all learning to operate in a higher-for-longer environment, our portfolio continues to demonstrate the resilience of consumer demand for value-oriented experiential assets. Additionally, we're off to a solid start for our investment spending and disposition targets. In summary, we continue to be positioned to succeed for our shareholders with a well-covered dividend and a path for growth. Now let's open it up for questions. Stacey?

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