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What to Expect When Retail Opportunity Investments Corp. Reports Earnings

By Steve Symington - Jul 27, 2015 at 5:19PM

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Though the strip-mall REIT continues to gobble up new properties, its per-share profits have lagged. Is that about to change?

Retail Opportunity Investments Corp. (ROIC -1.52%) is set to announce earnings after the market close on Wednesday, July 29. With the stock down around 5% since its reasonably solid report in April, investors will be listening closely to see how the shopping-center REIT fared in its most recent quarter.

The headline numbers
First, don't expect the market to place much emphasis on Retail Opportunity Investments' net income. Rather, as a REIT, a better way to gauge the performance of Retail Opportunity Investments is to look at its funds from operations, or FFO, which effectively measures the company's cash flow from operations. Analysts, on average, estimate Retail Opportunity Investments' revenue will climb 27.9% year over year to $46.7 million, while funds from operations are expected to rise a more modest 9.5% to $0.23 per share.  

Retail Opportunity Investments, for its part, doesn't provide quarterly guidance. But we should expect to hear some fresh color on the company's full-year 2015 outlook. Last quarter, that outlook was raised to a 2015 FFO per-share range of $0.90 to $0.94, the midpoint of which sits slightly below analysts' estimates for full-year FFO of $0.93 per share. 

Digging deeper
Next, Retail Opportunity should outline its most recent acquisitions. Keep in mind that late last year, the company raised capital that increased its net share count by 24%, which explains why per-share growth in FFO hasn't kept pace with that of revenue. But at the same time, Retail Opportunity Investments is putting that money to work for its intended purpose; According to CEO Stuart Tanz in an interview at REITWeek 2015 a few days ago, the company has acquired almost $1 billion in assets over the past year and a half. Within that total last quarter was $207.2 million dedicated to grocery-anchored shopping center purchases, including $108 million under contract primarily from two new properties located within the San Francisco metropolitan area. At the very least, I suspect management will provide fresh details on not only those properties, but also any supplemental purchases of key anchor spaces within existing centers, as well as any new properties purchased and placed under contract during the quarter.

In addition, listen for details on both lease rates and pricing power. Most recently on the former, ROIC ended last quarter with a 97% portfolio leased rate, up 110 basis points year over year. This figure might fluctuate from quarter to quarter depending on the size and respective lease rates of new acquisitions, but over the long term, investors have grown accustomed to seeing ROIC steadily grow lease rates on a year-over-year basis. On the latter, ROIC demonstrates pricing power through increases in same-space comparative cash rent. Last quarter, same-space comparative cash rent climbed 12.8% year over year, including a 25.4% increase from new leases, and 7.1% growth from renewals.

Finally, as a REIT, Retail Opportunity Investments must return at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. As it stands, ROIC's dividend was most recently raised 6.3% to $0.17 per share in February, equating to an annual yield of roughly 4.1% at today's prices. Assuming ROIC continues to grow its bottom line, then, investors can safely expect future dividend increases to follow suit and further compound their gains over the long term.

Steve Symington owns shares of Retail Opportunity Investments. The Motley Fool recommends Retail Opportunity Investments. The Motley Fool owns shares of Retail Opportunity Investments. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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