Camden Property Trust Earnings Call Insights: Traffic Details and D.C. Metro Area Market

Camden Property Trust (NYSE:CPT) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Traffic Details

Nicholas Joseph – Citigroup: You mentioned that traffic remained strong, but can you give the actual figures for traffic relative to last year and then for D.C. specifically?

NEW! Discover a new stock idea each week for less than the cost of 1 trade. CLICK HERE for your Weekly Stock Cheat Sheets NOW!

Richard J. Campo – Chairman and CEO: Yeah. Actually, our traffic – the way that we have historically calculated is on a year-over-year basis is down about 7%, although it’s kind of interesting because – and one of the things that we are in the process of doing is taking a hard look at whether we should redefine how we historically have counted traffic. The incidents of Internet traffic has gotten to be such a huge part of how people go about finding us and us transacting business where we can literally sign leases online without someone ever actually physically coming to the community and filling out a guest card. So, we are in the process of rethinking that. Clearly, we’ve got enough traffic at our communities because we’re – I think we’re doing a better job of targeting the traffic and we’ve got plenty of traffic to maintain our occupancy for the quarter above 95% and right now, we stand at about 95.6%, which is really high for our portfolio from a historical standpoint.

NEW! Discover a new stock idea each week for less than the cost of 1 trade. CLICK HERE for your Weekly Stock Cheat Sheets NOW!

D. Keith Oden – President and Trust Manager: I think what I would add to that is that, is that we are now utilizing a very sophisticated big data analysis of our traffic and our spend on advertising and one of the questions that you have, when you have high occupancy and high lease conversion rates, it’s why have the traffic, if you don’t need it. We don’t need the traffic right now. So, looking at traffic numbers year-over-year, I would say, if you’re an efficient operator in using big data and you’re analyzing this with all the smart MBA types that we have looking at this data, I got to tell you, I’d rather have it go down substantially more and have occupancy go up and have our spend from an operating cost go down. So, I think if you – you’ve got be very careful about looking at traffic trends in this sort of big data Internet environment because I think they’re meaningless.

Nicholas Joseph – Citigroup: Then in terms of your development pipeline, how much cost pressure are you seeing from increasing costs and how does this affect your assumed stabilized yields…

Richard J. Campo – Chairman and CEO: Cost pressure is definitely out there and it really depends on the market, but we think cost pressuring markets, primarily Texas for now because the market is so strong and were also impacted by the oil plays in South Texas. But we’re seeing anywhere from 5% in some markets to 10% or 12% in others. The good news however is that yields haven’t really been negatively impacted yet because rental rates have risen faster than anybody projected or that we have projected in our numbers. The good news is that as we got a lot of development in before the cost increases as a matter of fact we saved somewhere in $30 million range of construction cost that was under budget in the last cycle and our developments leased up at an average of 10 months early because of the strength of the market. So what’s happening now is that cost are definitely under pressure and in some markets South Florida for example we’re not seeing much cost pressure in Atlanta, not much cost pressure, but clearly in Texas, D.C. has got some pressure because of all the construction going on there. But I think that the cost pressure is actually good thing for the market because people are having to really sharpen their pencil and the easy deals and low hanging fruit is over so you have a situation where it’s much more difficult to make the numbers work because of this cost pressure.


NEW! Discover a new stock idea each week for less than the cost of 1 trade. CLICK HERE for your Weekly Stock Cheat Sheets NOW!

D.C. Metro Area Market

Robert Stevenson – Macquarie Research Equities: Keith, could you just talk a little bit about the D.C. market and where you’re seeing pockets of strength where you might be seeing pockets of weakness and what the operating strategy is as you face the big deliveries here in ’13?

D. Keith Oden – President and Trust Manager: So let’s talk about the – let’s kind of set the stage first of all on the deliveries. We think that this year we are going to get somewhere in the range of 10,000 apartments completed in the D.C. Metro area and obviously that’s spread out all the way from Maryland to Northern Virginia. In places where you have a concentration of activity, that’s where you are going to see the impact because on a macro basis if you think about the deliveries that we had last year in D.C., we delivered roughly 5,000 apartments. So add 5,000 to 10,000 we are going to get this year, you have 15,000 apartments and yet in D.C. last year we had about 40,000 jobs and this year the numbers are in the 35,000 to 40,000 range again. So kind of using the 1-to-5 ratio that we have used historically that’s really not that out of kilter from a supply demand standpoint looking at over the two years combined. So our operating plan this year, we have got a target of – NOI target of roughly 4%, that’s about what we did in the first quarter in D.C. So we think we are on track to deliver somewhere in the 4% same-store NOI growth rate in D.C. this year. Now that does not say that there are individual pockets where if you have got three deals that are all trying to get through the door at the same time that there’s not going to be some pressure on the lease up, there certainly will be. The good news is that most of our portfolio is not located in those markets. Our stabilized portfolio is not in the markets that have the most development activity. We do have a – we just opened our doors and began lease up on our South Capital project and that’s leasing up. We are having great traffic. We are having good conversions and its well above our original pro forma rate for rent, so far so good. The second – the other community that we have is under construction. I don’t think we deliver units there until 2014 and that’s north of Massachusetts or NoMa. Those two are both in the district proper. As you get out beyond that, it gets pretty spotty as to whether we think they is going to be specific impact to our communities, but overall D.C. feels like a market that, again in certain submarkets you’re going to have some pressure, but overall I think we’re going to be okay…

Robert Stevenson – Macquarie Research Equities: Have you guys in any of the submarkets where you are likely to face meaningful supply, have you guys been sending out renewals even earlier than you otherwise would to try to lock these people down before they get the opportunity to move out into a new project?

NEW! Discover a new stock idea each week for less than the cost of 1 trade. CLICK HERE for your Weekly Stock Cheat Sheets NOW!

D. Keith Oden – President and Trust Manager: No, Rob, we haven’t. We’re not – a lot of this 10,000 unit supply that’s coming on this year is back loaded because it got started in the middle of last year. So, we’re not to that point of having to make any kind of strategic pricing or renewal decisions based on the supply. It’s enough to say that we wanted some points in this year, but not so far.

Robert Stevenson – Macquarie Research Equities: Then just lastly on the development, you guys have sort of said this year 250 to 400 of starts, is that still – given what you’re seeing out there, still about where you expect to be and is the schedule in the supplemental likely to be the sort of ordering at which stuff comes out?

D. Keith Oden – President and Trust Manager: We’re still comfortable with the 250 to 400, and yes, the supplement is sort of the in the order it will come out.