Hollywood drama unleashed: Hudson Pacific Properties hit by writers’ strike

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In a tale that blends tinsel town turmoil and financial fiascos, Hudson Pacific Properties, a major Hollywood landlord, finds itself in a predicament as it grapples with the fallout from an ongoing writers’ strike.

The real estate investment trust made a shocking announcement on Monday: the withdrawal of its 2023 financial guidance and a 40 percent to 50 percent slash in its dividend. Following the announcement, Hudson Pacific’s shares plunged nearly 11 percent to $4.61 at 9:51 a.m. in New York on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported. 

Known for its grandeur and affiliation with the glittering world of showbiz, Hudson Pacific boasts an impressive repertoire of 60 sound stages and 1,600 production vehicles, making it one of the largest owners of studio space in the industry. But the ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America has left Hudson Pacific in a lurch.

The company’s troubles were brewing even before the strike began on May 2. The pandemic’s lingering effects haunted Hudson Pacific’s office buildings, leaving vacancies in their wake. As leases expired in the San Francisco area and Silicon Valley, cash rents took a nosedive of 4.9 percent, and office vacancies expanded.

To add insult to injury, Hudson Pacific’s adjusted funds from operations stood at a mere 35 cents per share, missing the 41-cent estimate compiled by Bloomberg.

The company had set the stage for a more prosperous performance.  It had triumphantly acquired buildings used by studios to craft their cinematic masterpieces, spanning the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the fog-kissed shores of the United Kingdom. Just last year, the company stunned onlookers by investing a staggering $360 million to acquire Quixote Studios. This move seemed poised to catapult the company to new heights, reminiscent of a heroic plot twist. But alas, life rarely imitates art.

With a touch of melancholy, the company revealed that it had already sensed a disturbance in the studio business, particularly in March.

In previous writer’s strikes, studios would race against time to complete their projects before the impending work stoppage. However, this time, entertainment companies chose a different path, slashing spending on programming due to years of financial losses from their streaming services. This has left Hudson Pacific and its peers in a spot of bother. 

All eyes are now on the company’s management, which will hold a conference call with investors at noon (New York time) on Tuesday. 

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