The u/m is an extract from a BT article written by Teh Hooi Ling. Senior Correspondent and CFAer, published on 3 December 2011. It gives some very interesting insights on the yields offered by the various types of Reits, shipping trusts and other business trusts*. (Note some bad news for shipping trusts)
Thanks BT, Ms Teh and the unnamed fund manager, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”.
For investors who are keen on Reits and other business trusts, here is some advice from a fund manager friend on how to go about picking the right ones.
Industrial properties usually have 30-year leases, or 30+30. Assuming a 30-year lease, it means it depreciates at a rate of 3.3 per cent pa, versus one per cent pa for a 99-year lease for a retail or commercial building. So the yields for industrial Reits have to be up to 2.3 per cent pa higher than retail or commercial Reits. Usually however, it is less due to the time discount factor.
‘Ships are usually scrapped after about 25-30 years. I think typically they are depreciated over 15 years or so. Even if ships are scrapped after 30 years, shipping trusts should command a higher yield than industrial Reits because the ship lessee can ‘disappear’ with the ship, but not the industrial building tenant.
‘Hospital Reits like Parkway Reit is a rare breed as its revenue is based on a consumer price index formula. You can think of it as having zero vacancy rate (but the main issue is counterparty risk). So given the same counterparty risk, it should trade at a lower yield than retail Reits, which should trade at lower yields than commercial Reits, given the same tenure (because it’s easier to lease out retail units).
‘In turn, commercial Reits should trade at lower yields to industrial, which should trade at lower yields to hospitality (as vacancy rates of hotels/service apartments can be quite high during recessions).
‘Hospitality Reits should trade at lower yields to shipping.
‘But note that industrial can trade at higher yields to hospitality as the former has shorter tenures.
‘As for Hutchison Port Holding Trust and SP Ausnet, I would value them as companies rather than Reits, as usually the rates they charge are prone to fluctuations – unlike Reits and shipping trusts which usually lock customers up for years.
‘SP Ausnet is not structured even as a business trust and pays its dividends out of net profit rather than cash profit. I think every year, it pays out the same dividend per share even though its earnings fluctuate. I would value it the same way I value SingPost.’
Note that unlike a company, a Reit cannot maintain payouts if it hits a bad patch because, at least, 90% of net income has to be paid out. While this is not true of biz trusts, their attraction is that they promise to pay out most of their free cashflow. Companies usually pay out only a portion of their net income, hence there is something in reserve, if they hit a bad patch, and dividends can be maintained for a while more. Hence the importance to investors of what analysts call “dividend cover” which shows how many times over the net income could have paid the dividend. For example, if the dividend cover was 2, this means that the firm’s profit attributable to shareholders was two times the amount of dividend paid out. Not true of Reits, and biz trusts. Got problems, payouts get cut.