St. Joe Earnings Call Insights: Port Dredging and Retirement Community

St. Joe Corporation (NYSE:JOE) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Port Dredging

Aaron Scully – Janus Research: Just curious to hear your thoughts on where we are in terms of the approval funding for the dredging of the port and what the timeline is there?

Park Brady – CEO: We don’t have any specific timeline and it’s a complicated procedure to get funding which will probably be a combination of different government entities. The funding will come through the Port Authority which is in for St. Joe is it. So, we cannot give you specific timeline. We are in the process of going out and getting quotes for an engineering report which is the beginning of that process which will give us the specifics of what we actually need to make the channel usable as a deepwater port.

Aaron Scully – Janus Research: And has the announcement that you intend to dredge the port, has that led to any additional interest or activity at the port, have you started seeing, receiving more calls on potential tenants there?

Park Brady – CEO: We’ve had positive response from that and the tenants are basically saying to us, to ones that have called originally and the ones that called as a result of that are saying to us, it’s very important to us to know that there is a timeline and that the dredging’s going to happen. We signed two letters of intent that we announced, with Enova and Green Circle and those are contingent on the port being dredged, but with no time commitment, and we’re working on getting that done…

Aaron Scully – Janus Research: Just one last question and I’ll let others ask, but I guess this is the final question, that 8-K announcing the potential for some sales in timber and rural land. I’m curious, hypothetically, if you were to see a significant amount of cash, how do you prioritize the uses of that cash and would one of those potentially be a share buyback?

Thomas Hoyer – CFO: We would be looking at all options there. We have no present plans, if we generate cash out of a small or large sale it’d be part of our strategic planning interest, which we’re in the process of working on right now and this is – one of the pieces of that would be what strategy did we use to deal with the excess cash.

 

Retirement Community

Sheila McGrath – Evercore Partners: Park, I was wondering if you could discuss any more specifics on the retirement community that you mentioned in the press release. Would this be with a partner? Would it entail like selling lots to builders, just if you could give us a little bit more insight there?

Park Brady – CEO: So, because of the land holding that we have Sheila and the location that we are, we feel like we’ve got the real ability to have a large scale active adult project and the first piece of that is working with the governmental agencies, planning departments, the counties and federal land state to get our entitlements to make that happen and so we’ve had our first pre-planning meetings with those agencies in the last 10 days. So we are starting that process I can’t tell you where that’s going to go other than our intention is to plan it well and to execute it well.

Sheila McGrath – Evercore Partners: So do you think it would entail bringing in a partner or you guys feel comfortable once you get everything with the local jurisdiction that you might do it on your own?

Park Brady – CEO: If we get a good partner, we’ve said that before that we would work with someone experienced in it to make it happen or if we feel like we also have the ability from. We’ve been working for two years now. And so we feel like we’ve got enough information that we might be able to go do it alone as well.

Sheila McGrath – Evercore Partners: Then just on I noticed like in the public filings like with the Courthouse isn’t stuff that it seems like volume both at the primary communities like RiverTown and Breakfast Point was pretty good and also at the resort communities. I was just wondering if you could tell us a couple of things, just how the pricing trends are going volume trends are going and if you have any new builder partnership, that are worth noting?

Park Brady – CEO: I would say all those trends are up I mean it’s pretty clear that the market here is doing well, again they are not big numbers for us yet. We feel like that the true positive is we’re going forward, we don’t have any brand new partner builders, although we have said we are talking to larger builders who are willing, who are exploring larger takedowns so, Sheila.

Sheila McGrath – Evercore Partners: Then, just is most of the activity still on the primary side, it’s isolated to Breakfast Point and RiverTown? On the resort side, is there any notable pick up at some of the communities that have been kind of quiet for a while?

Park Brady – CEO: No, I wouldn’t say, WaterSound West Beach, WaterSound Beach, WaterColor, those are all – they picked up a year ago and really accelerated this year. There’s not much inventory left in those, but no new ones. We’re probably going to, because of that demand and the locations of it being close to the water and that is – we’re probably going to, we’ve held off on the WaterSound now for two years in WaterSound North and so, we’ll probably be getting very active in that as a residential community, it’s been on hold for three or four years.

Sheila McGrath – Evercore Partners: Then just, quickly on following up on Aaron’s question on Port St. Joe, a couple of the contacts that you mentioned or have announced, they were contingent on the dredging, is there any, are you kind of waiting for government to fund the dredging or I just want to get a sense on timing of when you might know more on?

Park Brady – CEO: As I’ve told Aaron, the first step is to determine what the scope of the project is and we are beginning that right now. We are funding the initial phase to do the study to get that done and once we do that and we’re coming back to the government agencies and saying this is the need. There’s a strong acknowledgement, both within a state and federal government that ports are very big job creators and all the indications we’ve gotten so far is that we will get support.