BOSTON—Retail wasn’t the only commercial property sector to suffer financially at the hands of Old Man Winter earlier this year. In separate SEC filings, Boston Properties and another locally based office REIT, Government Income Properties Trust, blamed snow-removal and utility expenses for first-quarter earnings that came in below projections.
BXP, which announced its Q1 results Tuesday evening, said funds from operations for the quarter came in at $183.8 million or $1.20 per share, below the $1.21 to $1.23 per-share guidance it had provided earlier. The REIT, which chalked up the shortfall to weather-related expenses as well a timing variance in its general and administrative costs, nonetheless reported a year-over-year increase in net income for Q1: $54 million, compared to $47.9 million for the first three months of 2013.
Subsequent to quarter’s end, BXP finalized a pair of deals on both coasts on the same day, April 10. It secured a 714,000-square-foot lease, believed to be the largest in San Francisco history, from Salesforce at the 1.4-million-square-foot office tower BXP is building at 415 Mission St. In Washington, DC, BXP entered a joint venture with an unrelated third party to acquire a parcel at 501 K St., which it expects to hold a 520,000-square-foot class A office tower down the road.
At Newton, MA-based GOV, president and COO David Blackman cites Q1 results that included increasing same-store occupancy for the eighth consecutive quarter, reaching 95.1% as of March 31. “We were, however, disappointed that our first-quarter net operating income was reduced by significant increases in utility expenses and snow removal costs due to the unusually severe winter weather experienced in many parts of the country,” says Blackman. Same-store NOI declined by 7.6%, and this was largely responsible for a year-over-year decline in normalized FFO of three cents per share to $0.53 per share. GOV said Wednesday.
Although both Boston-area REITs cited wintry weather for undermining their Q1 results, analysts at RBC Capital Markets gave them very different marks in examining those results. RBC gave GOV an “underperform” rating, noting FFO that met expectations but missed consensus and the slow pace of investment activity. Conversely, though, RBC observed that Q1 leasing in GOV’s portfolio appeared to be “healthy.”
In giving BXP an “outperform” rating, RBC noted that the modest shortfall in its Q1 performance was “largely immaterial,” especially since the REIT raised its guidance for the year. Although BXP completed no acquisitions or dispositions during Q1, it remained an active developer. Further, RBC analysts wrote, BXP’s balance sheet metrics continue to be “very healthy, with fixed charges coverage of 3.9x and debt/EBITDA of 7.0x.” Cowen & Co. similarly gave BXP a rating of “outperform,” citing its activity in both development and leasing.