AMB Property Corporation has reported fourth quarter and full year 2004 earnings per share (EPS) of $0.65 and $1.39, respectively, exceeding the company´s guidance of $0.47 to $0.57 for the quarter and $1.20 to $1.30 for the year. The better-than- expected EPS results stem primarily from higher gains on sales of operating properties associated with the company´s continued refinement of its portfolio.
Fourth quarter 2004 EPS increased 117% from EPS of $0.30 in the same period of 2003. EPS for fourth quarter 2004 included $0.40 per share in net gains on dispositions of real estate while the same period in the prior year included $0.04 per share in net gains. Full year 2004 EPS decreased 1.4% from EPS of $1.41 in 2003. Full year 2004 results include $0.55 of net gains on dispositions compared with $0.61 of net gains in 2003.
The company´s industrial operating portfolio was 94.8% leased as of December 31, 2004, up 20 basis points from September 30, 2004, and up 170 basis points from December 31, 2003. Preliminary data indicate U.S. industrial vacancy at the end of the fourth quarter was 10.9%, representing a 30 basis point improvement from the prior quarter -- the third consecutive quarter of improving occupancy nationally.
Cash-basis same store net operating income (NOI) increased 0.4% in fourth quarter 2004, driven primarily by occupancy gains. For the full year 2004, same store NOI declined 0.9%, representing the impact of rental rate decreases on leases renewed or rolled over during the past 12 months, partially offset by occupancy increases.
Hamid R. Moghadam, chairman and CEO, said, 'Demand fundamentals for industrial real estate continue to show positive momentum. The fourth quarter marked the largest quarterly gains in both the Industrial Production and Manufacturing Output indexes since the fourth quarter of 1999. Growth in business inventories is strong and broadly based across the manufacturing, retail and wholesale sectors. This macro activity supported a second consecutive quarter of national industrial real estate absorption in excess of 50 million square feet, well above the 10-year average of 33 million square feet per quarter. AMB´s portfolio has gained occupancy consistently over the course of the year with the strongest demand for distribution space coming from markets tied to global trade. We believe these occupancy improvements set the stage for rental rate growth in supply-constrained submarkets.'
During the fourth quarter, AMB acquired 3.1 million square feet of distribution facilities in 16 buildings for a total expected investment of $200 million in metropolitan Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Chicago and Minneapolis. The transactions bring the company´s full year acquisition activity to 7.6 million square feet in 64 buildings with a total expected investment of $695 million.
AMB stabilized three industrial development projects during the fourth quarter. The buildings, which are fully leased, comprise 1.2 million square feet for a total estimated investment of $47 million. During 2004, AMB´s development completions totaled 2.1 million square feet of new facilities with a total investment of $89 million.
New development and redevelopment starts in the quarter totaled approximately 1.6 million square feet in six projects in Europe and the United States with an estimated total investment of $151 million. The company began the highest level of new development in its history during 2004 with approximately 6.1 million square feet of starts with an estimated total investment at completion of $649 million. AMB´s industrial development and renovation pipeline now totals 30 projects of approximately 8.9 million square feet in North America, Europe and Asia. Total investment in the pipeline´s properties is estimated at $829 million. Deliveries are scheduled from the first quarter of 2005 through the first quarter of 2008.
AMB´s president, W. Blake Baird, commented, 'Our acquisitions in the qua