On I August 2011 when FCOT was at $0.88 (note I own some shares), CIMB came out with report where it maintains ‘outperform’. Q3 2011 distribution per unit (DPU) of 1.38 cents meets our forecast and Street expectation at 24 per cent of our FY2011 figure. 9M 2011 DPU forms 74 per cent of our estimate. DPU was up 10 per cent y-o-y on stronger net property income (NPI) contributions from almost all its self-managed assets mainly on better occupancy. Occupancy at KeyPoint had improved for the ninth consecutive quarter.
An improving underlying portfolio at China Square Central meanwhile should position Frasers Commercial Trust (FCOT) for upside when it takes over direct management in March 2012. No change to our DPU estimates or dividend discount model-based target price of $0.99 (discount rate: 9.4 per cent).
With an improving portfolio, stable capital structure and a strong sponsor in F&N, we see no reason for its 35 per cent discount to book amid forward yields of 7 per cent. We see catalysts from early refinancing, the unlocking of value from AEI at China Square Central and improvements in occupancy and rentals.
NPI was up 10 per cent y-o-y on stronger contributions from Central Park, Caroline Chisholm Centre and Keypoint. Q-o-q, NPI was up 4 per cent as there were improvements at its Australian assets. Occupancy at KeyPoint also continued to improve for the ninth consecutive quarter to 86 per cent since the in-house team took over property leasing in Q2 2009.
Passing rents were stable at about $5 per square foot with limited exposure to higher rollover rents locked in at the 2008 peak.
China Square Central’s underlying occupancy improved 20 basis points, with recent leases renewed at $6.30-8.00 psf versus expiring rents of $6.30 psf and passing rents of below $6 psf. Continued improvements in occupancy and rentals on the back of more proactive management by FCOT and an upcoming Telok Ayer MRT station could position FCOT for upside when it takes over direct management following the expiry of the master lease in March 2012.
Asset leverage had been pared down to about 37 per cent after the divestments of AWPF and Cosmo Plaza. This entire amount ($745 million) will mature in 2012. With a high cost of debt of 4.3 per cent and prolonged low interest rates, FCOT could save in terms of interest following the refinancing of this debt. We estimate that a 50-basis point interest rate reduction could lift its DPU by 11 per cent.