Aircastle Limited acquires, leases and sells commercial jet aircraft to airlines throughout the world. As of March 31, 2017, we owned and managed on behalf of our joint ventures 213 aircraft leased to 72 lessees located in 37 countries.
· Pursuing a disciplined and differentiated investment strategy. In our view, aircraft values change in different ways over time. We carefully evaluate investments across different aircraft models, ages, lessees and acquisition sources and re-evaluate these choices as market conditions and relative investment values change. We believe the financing flexibility offered through unsecured debt and our team’s experience with a wide range of asset types enables our value oriented strategy and provides us with a competitive advantage. We view orders from equipment manufacturers to be part of our investment opportunity set, but choose to limit long term capital commitments unless we believe there is an adequate return premium to compensate for risks and opportunity costs. This approach sets us apart from most other large aircraft leasing companies.
· Originating investments from many different sources across the globe. Our strategy is to seek out worthwhile investments by leveraging our team’s wide range of contacts around the world. We utilize a multi-channel approach to sourcing acquisitions and have purchased aircraft from a large number of airlines, lessors, original equipment manufacturers, lenders and other aircraft owners. Since our formation in 2004, we have acquired aircraft from 85 different sellers.
· Selling assets when attractive opportunities arise and for portfolio management purposes. We sell assets with the aim of realizing profits and reinvesting proceeds when more accretive investments are available. We also use asset sales for portfolio management purposes, such as reducing lessee specific concentrations and lowering residual value exposures to certain aircraft types, and as an exit from investments when a sale generates the greatest expected cash flow for us.
· Maintaining efficient access to capital from a wide set of sources while targeting an investment grade credit rating. We believe the aircraft investment market is influenced by the business cycle. Our strategy is to increase our purchase activity when prices are low and to emphasize asset sales when competition for assets is high. To implement this approach, we believe it is very important to maintain access to a wide variety of financing sources. Our strategy is to improve our corporate credit ratings to an investment grade level by maintaining strong portfolio and capital structure metrics while achieving a critical size through accretive growth. We believe improving our credit rating will not only reduce our borrowing costs, but also facilitate more reliable access to both secured and unsecured debt capital throughout the business cycle.
· Leveraging our strategic relationships. We intend to capture the benefits provided through the extensive global contacts and relationships maintained by Marubeni Corporation, which is our biggest shareholder and one of the largest Japanese trading companies. Marubeni has already enabled greater access to Japanese-based financing and helped source and develop our joint venture ("IBJ Air") with the leasing aim of the Industrial Bank of Japan, Limited. IBJ Air is targeted at newer narrow-body aircraft leased to premier airlines, providing Aircastle with increased access to the market sector and to these customers. Our joint venture ("Lancaster") with Teachers’ provides us with an opportunity to pursue larger transactions, manage portfolio concentrations and improve our return on deployed capital.
· Capturing the value of our efficient operating platform and strong operating track record. We believe our team’s capabilities in the global aircraft leasing market place us in a favorable position to source and manage new income-generating activities. We intend to continue to focus our efforts in areas where we believe we have competitive advantages, including new direct investments as well as ventures with strategic business partners.
· Intending to pay quarterly dividends to our shareholders based on the Company’s sustainable earnings levels. Aircastle has paid dividends each quarter since our initial public offering in 2006. On February 9, 2017, our Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.26 per common share, or an aggregate of $20.5 million for the three months ended March 31, 2017, which was paid on March 15, 2017 to holders of record on February 28, 2017. These dividends may not be indicative of the amount of any future dividends. Our ability to pay quarterly dividends will depend upon many factors, including those as described in Item 1A. “Risk Factors”, and elsewhere in our 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K.