Sun Communities Expanding RV/MH Footprint
Armed with $60 million in cash and $300 million in “additional liquidity,” Sun Communities Inc. is quickly expanding its footprint in the RV park and manufactured housing community industry.
Gary Shiffman, Sun’s chairman and CEO, briefly touched on the company’s expansion plan during an earnings conference call Thursday (April 25), following release of its first quarter financial report. In that report, Sun announced revenue of $103.38 million, and earnings of 93 cents per share.
Click here to read a summary of the earnings report.
Sun beat Wall Street’s expectations, a positive sign to shareholders seeking high growth out of the company. The stock closed Thursday at $48.77 per share, down 6 cents, on volume of 171,707 shares.
"The company has grown dramatically while operating metrics continue to set new standards and records with each passing quarter,” Shiffman stated. For example, compared to the end of 2010, Sun’s holdings are up by 48 properties or 45% to 184 properties in 25 states, compared to 17 at the end of 2010, Shiffman noted.
“When we also consider the successful efforts to strengthen the balance sheet, we see a transformed company. Our primary goal now is to bring performance to the bottom line through 2013 and 2014," he said.
Its RV park acquisitions over the past 18 months have fueled much of the company’s growth, Shiffman noted in the news release and later during the conference call monitored by more than 20 investors.
Sun has invested over $250 million in the acquisition and quality enhancements of RV communities in 18 months, the bulk of them coming in purchases from Morgan RV Resorts.
"Recent acquisitions have served to diversify the company geographically into new markets as well as to expand our commitment to recreational vehicle properties,” Shiffman stated in the news release. “While formerly limited to seasonal operations during the months of December through April primarily in our Southern Florida and Texas RV communities, our geographic footprint now extends north to Wisconsin and the Eastern Seaboard up to Maine where the RV season is opposite of the South, running from June through October. We've created a year-round business with complimentary northern and southern seasons which will provide more efficient and effective use of our staff, marketing and RV systems.”
In addition, just last week (after the quarter had ended), Sun paid $9.8 million for the Jellystone Park of Western New York, its first resort in New York state.
Based in Southfield, Mich., Sun is branding these destination resorts as “Sun RV Resorts” which will operate over 30 communities from Arizona to Maine to Wisconsin to Florida.
“Our vision is to have our brand distinguish the entire guest experience from start to finish – every touch point, from initial inquiries through our enhanced Internet site to the reservation and checkout processes will reflect a positive concern for the satisfaction of every guest,” Shiffman said in an earlier release. “Guests will have confidence that they will receive first-class customer service throughout their stay, including quality hook-up and site accommodations, vacation rentals and a wide range of attractive amenities at each Sun RV Resort.”
Without being specific, Shiffman told investors “a lot of capital investment” will be going on in the acquired communities as part of its new RV platform.
“All that integration will take place over the next 12 to 18 months and will enhance existing opportunities that we have in new acquisitions and some existing properties we own,” he said.
Much of Sun’s conference call dealt with its manufactured housing investments, which have grown by 42% over the past two years.
Occupancy has increased in all markets including Indiana, which experienced its best first quarter in many years, Shiffman said. This upturn followed significant growth in Colorado, Texas and Michigan markets.
Occupancy in its housing systemwide is up to 88%. The company considers full occupancy to be 96%.
In other comments, Shiffman said the Sun board continues to examine its dividend policy and may vote to raise it later this year. The quarterly dividend is currently at 63 cents per share.