New Plan Coming Together

As I started looking at the fourth-quarter and full-year 2005 results from New Plan Excel Realty Trust (NYSE: NXL  ) , I was initially curious to see how the company's joint venture with Sears Holdings (Nasdaq: SHLD  ) was progressing. It's too soon to get much of a read on the development with Sears Holdings, which is what I expected, but there are a number of other interesting changes going on with this shopping-center REIT.

For the year, New Plan Excel turned in funds from operations (FFO) of $1.76 per share, which is a decline from last year's $2.04 performance. However, there are a number of moving parts in that calculation and the company has sold a number of properties and is reinvesting the proceeds. On an adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) basis, I estimate the company turned in $1.47 per diluted share, which more than covers the company's current dividend of $1.25. In looking at the dividend, it should be noted that the company cut its dividend from $0.4125 per share to $0.3125 per share, beginning with the third quarter of 2005.

Over the past few years, the company has entered into a number of joint ventures, including two with Income Investor selection JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) . And as mentioned above, the company sold a number of properties, some of them outright and some into the joint ventures. This means there are a number of moving parts in the equation at the moment. In addition, since many of the joint ventures are new, there isn't a great deal of detail on the performance of the entities, but the company stated in its conference call that it expects to make changes in the level of its joint-venture disclosure in its first-quarter report in May.

The company's total debt-to-total market capitalization is a reasonable 37% and has been trending down from the 40% level it was at for most of last year. The company has 14% of its debt as variable, which is a bit higher than I like, but not unmanageable and its interest coverage is also healthy. Considering the overall diversity and stability of its larger tenants such as Kroger (NYSE: KR  ) , TJX Companies (NYSE: TJX  ) , and Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) , the company appears to be in good shape going forward.

As a small side note, there were a couple of items in the company's earnings release that I don't like to see. The first was the company highlighting that it beat First Call Consensus FFO estimates. While that's nice to know, I'm generally not a fan of companies that are so involved with the estimates game that they feel the need to shout about beating a quarterly estimate by a penny. The company deserves a little slack, because it's still smarting from the punishment its stock took when it cut its dividend last July to invest more heavily in joint ventures. But here's hoping for fewer pats on the back going forward.

For more REIT Foolishness:

Home Depot is aMotley Fool Inside Valueselection.

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NathanParmelee has no financial stake in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.

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