12/19/2013 | by Sarah Borchersen-Keto
Tanz says Investment Grade Ratings Mark Important Milestone

Stuart Tanz, president and CEO of Retail Opportunity Investment Corporation (NASDAQ: ROIC), recently joined REIT.com for a video interview at REITWorld 2013: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

ROIC specializes in the acquisition, ownership and management of necessity-based community and neighborhood shopping centers, anchored by national or regional supermarkets and drugstores.

During the interview, Tanz was asked to reflect on the impact of being awarded investment grade ratings from Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s earlier this year.

“Being investment grade is an important milestone for two reasons. Number one, it gives us the ability to access the unsecured bond market and more importantly, by having that ability, it gives us the ability to lower our cost of long term debt capital,” Tanz said.

Tanz also reviewed the high level of activity for ROIC in 2013. He noted that this year has been ROIC’s most active in terms of external growth, with $368 million in acquisitions recorded as of the third quarter.

“Our focus in terms of buying these assets has been on the West Coast in the primary markets. Looking forward, we’re very excited in terms of looking at our pipeline. What we really focus on are what we call direct-to-owner transactions, which are primarily all off market,” Tanz said. He explained that ROIC has been able to pursue such deals thanks to the “deep relationships that we’ve had here on the West Coast for over 20 years.”

Tanz emphasized that ROIC’s primary markets are Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Orange County. “Those markets, in my view, are some of the best markets, or most sought-after markets, in the country for a number of reasons,” Tanz said.

 Not only are these markets experiencing tight supply, but the demographic profile where ROIC is investing is “very, very strong,” according to Tanz. He added that Seattle and the Bay Area have outperformed other markets on the West Coast, while Southern California “is really beginning to show some resilience in terms of coming out of the recession.”