October 7, 2016 / 3:52 PM / a year ago

Fitch Affirms DDR's IDR at 'BBB-'; Outlook Stable

(The following statement was released by the rating agency) NEW YORK, October 07 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed the credit ratings for DDR Corp. (NYSE: DDR) including the Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB-'. The Rating Outlook is Stable. A full list of rating actions follows at the end of this release. KEY RATING DRIVERS DDR's 'BBB-' IDR takes into account the company's credit strengths including ongoing improvements in the quality of the company's retail property portfolio and the management team's focus on refining the asset base and simplifying the business. DDR benefits from strong expected fixed-charge coverage for the rating, a granular tenant roster with select quality credit tenants, and proven access to various sources of capital. Fitch anticipates leverage will be toward the stronger end of the range Fitch considers appropriate for the 'BBB-' rating over the next 12 to 24 months. Credit concerns include recent management turnover and a liquidity coverage ratio of below 1.0x assuming no access to external capital sources and when taking into account the company's development pipeline. In addition, while DDR continues to grow its unencumbered pool, Fitch projects that unencumbered asset coverage of unsecured debt will remain weak for the 'BBB-' rating. Improving Asset Quality DDR is executing on its strategic plan, which entails owning and operating market-dominant power centers in select markets with favorable population demographics and thereby generating consistent cash flow, while opportunistically engaging in capital recycling. Portfolio transformation is evidenced by the presence of more market-dominant power centers, with the average property size increasing to approximately 320,000 square feet as of June 30, 2016 compared to approximately 190,000 square feet as of Dec. 31, 2008. In addition, the leased rate improved to 95.7% as of June 30, 2016 from 92.2% in 2008, and average rent per square foot increased to $14.92 in second quarter 2016 (2Q'16) from $12.34 as of Dec. 31, 2008. DDR, led by its new CEO and interim Chief Financial Officer, initiated changes in its investment strategy by accelerating disposition plans for lower quality assets, and expected sales should result in an improved credit profile. Net proceeds from asset sales will be used primarily towards delevering. Ongoing Portfolio Review and Simplification DDR segmented the portfolio by examining market and asset factors. This analysis was predicated on the company's focus on power centers based on the belief that they have greater scale, a larger mix of tenants and serve larger trade areas than grocery-anchored neighborhood shopping centers, which Fitch views favorably. Currently, DDR's portfolio demographics are weaker than those of other U.S. shopping center REITs, as measured by population density and average household income. Strong Leasing Spreads and Fixed Charge Coverage Blended leasing spreads on new and renewal leases were 9.1% in 2Q16 following 9.5% growth in 2015. As of June 30, 2016, 2.8% of leases expire for the remainder of 2016 followed by 12.3% in 2017 and 14.4% in 2018, which should result in the company reporting stronger same store NOI growth as marks below-market leases upwards. Consolidated same-store NOI grew by 3.1% in 2Q'16 and 3.1% in 2015. Under Fitch's base case whereby the company generates 3% same-store NOI growth in 2016-2018 (due to positive releasing spreads, minor uptick in occupancy and annual bumps), fixed charge coverage would hit the low 3x range in 2018, which would be strong for the 'BBB-' rating. In a stress case not anticipated by Fitch in which same-store NOI declines by levels experienced in 2009 to 2010, fixed-charge coverage would remain in the mid 2x range, which would remain solid for the 'BBB-' rating. DDR's fixed-charge coverage ratio was 2.6x for the trailing 12 months ended June 30, 2016, up from 2.5x for 2015 and 2.4x in 2014. Organic EBITDA growth and re-development EBITDA growth were the primary contributors to the improvement. Secular Retailer Trends Favor Power Centers DDR has limited tenant concentration. Major tenants are TJX Companies (3.5% of rental revenues in 2Q'16), Bed Bath & Beyond (3%), PetSmart (2.9%), Walmart (IDR 'AA'/Outlook Stable at 2.4%), and Dick's Sporting Goods (2.3%). The top 20 tenants comprise 36% of 2Q'16 rental revenues, above the peer average. Numerous retailers are exploring larger footprints, which should bolster power center demand. Value/convenience retailers continue to grow, while non-traditional grocers have gained the market share of traditional retailers, which bodes well for DDR's tenants such as Walmart. Proven Access to Capital DDR is a seasoned issuer of multiple sources of capital. Since 2006, the company has issued approximately $4.4 billion of bonds, $350 million of preferred stock, and approximately $4.3 billion of equity via follow-on common offerings and at-the-market program issuance at a weighted average premium to consensus mean net asset value of 3.4% according to SNL Financial. In April 2015, DDR recast its primary $750 million unsecured revolving credit facility, extending the final maturity date to June 2020, including options, and reducing the pricing on the facility by 15 basis points to LIBOR plus 100 basis points. The company also recast its smaller credit facility to $50 million from $65 million under the same pricing terms and entered into a $400 million unsecured term loan, with pricing currently set at LIBOR plus 110 basis points. Leverage Appropriate for 'BBB-' Fitch projects that leverage, when excluding the effects of preferred stock, will be in the mid-6.5x range over the next 12 to 24 months, principally due to asset sales and organic EBITDA growth, which would be at the stronger end of the range for the 'BBB-' rating. Leverage was 6.7x in 2Q16 (6.8x for the TTM ended June 30, 2016), down from 7.2x in 2015 and 7.6x in 2014. When including 50% of preferred stock in total debt, DDR's leverage was 6.9x for the quarter and 7.1x for the TTM ended June 30, 2016. 2017 to 2018 Debt Maturities & Development Negatively Impact Liquidity Liquidity coverage is weak at 0.5x for the period July 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2018. The liquidity coverage ratio is weighed down by 2017 and 2018 pro rata debt maturities, which total 14.6% and 13.9% of total pro rata debt, respectively. Fitch defines liquidity coverage as sources divided by uses. Liquidity sources include readily available cash; availability under the company's unsecured revolving credit facilities and projected retained cash flows from operating activities. Liquidity uses include pro rata debt maturities, projected recurring capital expenditures and cost to complete development through 2018. The company's AFFO payout ratio was 63.3% in 2Q'16, down from 65.3% in 2015 and up from 60.2% in 2014. Based on the current payout ratio, the company retains approximately $120 million annually in internally generated liquidity. Cost-to-complete development represented 2% of undepreciated assets as of June 30, 2016, down from 2.3% as of year-end 2015 and well below the 3.5% level as of year-end 2007. Overall, redevelopment should improve asset quality and cash flow growth as DDR generally targets unlevered cash on cost in excess of 10%. Low Unencumbered Asset Coverage As of June 30, 2016, DDR's unencumbered assets (defined as unencumbered NOI divided by a stressed 8% capitalization rate) covered net unsecured debt by 1.7x, which is low for the 'BBB-' rating. Unencumbered asset coverage has trended around 1.6x-1.8x over the past several years. DDR continues to add quality assets to the unencumbered pool and the quality of the unencumbered pool is similar to that of the encumbered pool. Management Turnover a Concern In July 2016, David Oakes was terminated as CEO of DDR Corp. DDR Board member Thomas August was named President and Chief Executive Officer, making him the fourth CEO since 2009. While Fitch acknowledges Mr. August's extensive REIT experience, he has no prior experience running a retail REIT. Christa Vesy, DDR's current CAO, was named interim CFO, but the search for a permanent CFO continues. Additionally, the company is searching for a permanent Chief Investment Officer. Should management be unable to execute on strategy, it could result in negative rating momentum. Preferred Stock Notching The two-notch differential between DDR's IDR and its preferred stock rating is consistent with Fitch's criteria for corporate entities with an IDR of 'BBB-'. Based on Fitch's criteria report, 'Treatment and Notching of Hybrids in Nonfinancial Corporate and REIT Credit Analysis,' dated Feb. 29, 2016, the company's preferred stock is deeply subordinated and has loss absorption elements that would likely result in poor recoveries in the event of a corporate default. KEY ASSUMPTIONS Fitch's key assumptions within the rating case for DDR include: --3% same-store NOI growth in 2016-2018; --G&A to decline slightly relative to total revenues as the company endeavors to focus on fewer larger assets via expected asset sales; --$800 million of dispositions in 2016 and $670 million in 2017, followed by $100 million total in 2018. Net proceeds from asset sales will be used primarily towards delevering; --$225 million of acquisitions and development each year from 2016-2018; --Debt repayment with the issuance of new unsecured bonds; --Recurring capex divided by recurring operating EBITDA in the 7% to 8% range; --Fitch assumes no equity issuance in our rating case. Equity issuance is at management's discretion, and DDR's common shares are currently trading at an 8.2% discount to consensus mean net asset value according to SNL Financial. RATING SENSITIVITIES The following factors may result in positive momentum in the ratings and/or Rating Outlook: --Fitch's expectation of leverage sustaining below 6.5x is the primary factor for positive momentum on the ratings and/or Outlook (June 30, 2016 TTM leverage was 6.8x); --Fitch's expectation of growth in the size and quality of the unencumbered pool with unencumbered assets (unencumbered NOI divided by a stressed capitalization rate of 8%) covering net unsecured debt by 2.5x (this metric is 1.7x as of June 30, 2016); --Fitch's expectation of fixed-charge coverage sustaining above 2.3x is a less meaningful ratings sensitivity for positive momentum as it is less consistent through interest rate cycles (TTM fixed-charge coverage is 2.6x). The following factors may result in negative momentum in the ratings and/or Rating Outlook: --Fitch's expectation of leverage sustaining above 7.5x; --Fitch's expectation of fixed-charge coverage sustaining below 2.0x; --Base-case liquidity coverage sustaining below 1.0x (this ratio is 0.5x for July 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2018); --Unencumbered assets to net unsecured debt sustaining below 2.0x; --Continued management turnover, which reduces market confidence on the company's ability to execute on strategy. FULL LIST OF RATING ACTIONS Fitch has affirmed the following ratings: DDR Corp. --IDR at 'BBB-'; --Unsecured revolving credit facilities at 'BBB-'; --Unsecured term loan at 'BBB-'; --Senior unsecured notes at 'BBB-'; --Senior unsecured convertible notes at 'BBB-'; --Preferred stock at 'BB'. The Rating Outlook is Stable. Contact: Primary Analyst Daniel Kornblau Associate Director +1-646-582-4946 Fitch Ratings, Inc. 33 Whitehall Street New York, NY 10004 Secondary Analyst Steven Marks Managing Director +1-212-908-9161 Committee Chairperson Stephen Boyd Senior Director +1-212-908-9153 Media Relations: Sandro Scenga, New York, Tel: +1 212-908-0278, Email: sandro.scenga@fitchratings.com. Summary of Financial Statement Adjustments - Financial statement adjustments that depart material from those contained in the published financial statements of the relevant rated entity or obligor are disclosed below: --Historical and projected recurring operating EBITDA is adjusted to add back non-cash stock-based compensation. --Recurring joint venture distributions are added to EBITDA to calculate leverage and fixed-charge coverage. --Fitch adjusted the historical and projected net debt by assuming the issuer requires $15 million of cash for working capital purposes, which is otherwise unavailable to repay debt. Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com Applicable Criteria Criteria for Rating Non-Financial Corporates (pub. 27 Sep 2016) here Recovery Ratings and Notching Criteria for Non-Financial Corporate Issuers (pub. 05 Apr 2016) here Additional Disclosures Dodd-Frank Rating Information Disclosure Form here _id=1012821 Solicitation Status here Endorsement Policy here ail=31 ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: here. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEB SITE AT WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA, AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE, AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE CODE OF CONDUCT SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE. Copyright © 2016 by Fitch Ratings, Inc., Fitch Ratings Ltd. and its subsidiaries. 33 Whitehall Street, NY, NY 10004. Telephone: 1-800-753-4824, (212) 908-0500. Fax: (212) 480-4435. Reproduction or retransmission in whole or in part is prohibited except by permission. All rights reserved. In issuing and maintaining its ratings and in making other reports (including forecast information), Fitch relies on factual information it receives from issuers and underwriters and from other sources Fitch believes to be credible. Fitch conducts a reasonable investigation of the factual information relied upon by it in accordance with its ratings methodology, and obtains reasonable verification of that information from independent sources, to the extent such sources are available for a given security or in a given jurisdiction. The manner of Fitch's factual investigation and the scope of the third-party verification it obtains will vary depending on the nature of the rated security and its issuer, the requirements and practices in the jurisdiction in which the rated security is offered and sold and/or the issuer is located, the availability and nature of relevant public information, access to the management of the issuer and its advisers, the availability of pre-existing third-party verifications such as audit reports, agreed-upon procedures letters, appraisals, actuarial reports, engineering reports, legal opinions and other reports provided by third parties, the availability of independent and competent third- party verification sources with respect to the particular security or in the particular jurisdiction of the issuer, and a variety of other factors. Users of Fitch's ratings and reports should understand that neither an enhanced factual investigation nor any third-party verification can ensure that all of the information Fitch relies on in connection with a rating or a report will be accurate and complete. Ultimately, the issuer and its advisers are responsible for the accuracy of the information they provide to Fitch and to the market in offering documents and other reports. In issuing its ratings and its reports, Fitch must rely on the work of experts, including independent auditors with respect to financial statements and attorneys with respect to legal and tax matters. Further, ratings and forecasts of financial and other information are inherently forward-looking and embody assumptions and predictions about future events that by their nature cannot be verified as facts. As a result, despite any verification of current facts, ratings and forecasts can be affected by future events or conditions that were not anticipated at the time a rating or forecast was issued or affirmed. The information in this report is provided "as is" without any representation or warranty of any kind, and Fitch does not represent or warrant that the report or any of its contents will meet any of the requirements of a recipient of the report. A Fitch rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness of a security. This opinion and reports made by Fitch are based on established criteria and methodologies that Fitch is continuously evaluating and updating. Therefore, ratings and reports are the collective work product of Fitch and no individual, or group of individuals, is solely responsible for a rating or a report. The rating does not address the risk of loss due to risks other than credit risk, unless such risk is specifically mentioned. Fitch is not engaged in the offer or sale of any security. All Fitch reports have shared authorship. Individuals identified in a Fitch report were involved in, but are not solely responsible for, the opinions stated therein. The individuals are named for contact purposes only. A report providing a Fitch rating is neither a prospectus nor a substitute for the information assembled, verified and presented to investors by the issuer and its agents in connection with the sale of the securities. Ratings may be changed or withdrawn at any time for any reason in the sole discretion of Fitch. Fitch does not provide investment advice of any sort. Ratings are not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Ratings do not comment on the adequacy of market price, the suitability of any security for a particular investor, or the tax-exempt nature or taxability of payments made in respect to any security. Fitch receives fees from issuers, insurers, guarantors, other obligors, and underwriters for rating securities. Such fees generally vary from US$1,000 to US$750,000 (or the applicable currency equivalent) per issue. In certain cases, Fitch will rate all or a number of issues issued by a particular issuer, or insured or guaranteed by a particular insurer or guarantor, for a single annual fee. Such fees are expected to vary from US$10,000 to US$1,500,000 (or the applicable currency equivalent). The assignment, publication, or dissemination of a rating by Fitch shall not constitute a consent by Fitch to use its name as an expert in connection with any registration statement filed under the United States securities laws, the Financial Services and Markets Act of 2000 of the United Kingdom, or the securities laws of any particular jurisdiction. Due to the relative efficiency of electronic publishing and distribution, Fitch research may be available to electronic subscribers up to three days earlier than to print subscribers. For Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and South Korea only: Fitch Australia Pty Ltd holds an Australian financial services license (AFS license no. 337123) which authorizes it to provide credit ratings to wholesale clients only. Credit ratings information published by Fitch is not intended to be used by persons who are retail clients within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below