Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

June 11, 2008

Switch to S-Reits for their defensive nature: analysts

Filed under: Developer News,General,REIT — Propertymarketupdates @ 4:40 am

AGAINST the backdrop of uncertainty facing property developers, analysts advocate taking defensive positions in real estate investment trusts (Reits).

While there have been concerns about Reits as the credit crunch dried up their acquisition activity in the past six months, these worries now pale in the face of weightier concerns about slower home sales and falling home prices surrounding developers.

‘We believe the Singapore residential property sector could see a bursting of a bubble that has been created from exuberant expectations and liquidity over the past two years,’ Credit Suisse analysts said in a report this month. ‘We advocate switching from riskier residential exposure to S-Reits.’

Echoing these views are CIMB-GK analysts Donald Chua and Janice Ding. In a report yesterday, they said: ‘We remain confident in S-Reits for their defensive nature and attractive yields of 6.2 per cent on average and general positive outlook for property rents in the medium term.’

In particular, CIMB-GK prefers Reits with larger asset portfolios that can provide sustainable and stable income streams, experienced management teams with established track records and strong sponsors with quality assets to inject into the Reits.

‘We are also more inclined towards Reits with material Singapore-based assets in view of the strengthening Sing dollar,’ the CIMB-GK analysts said.

This makes industrial and retail Reits the brokerage’s top picks, given their defensive and stable income, and hospitality Reits in view of rising demand and rents.

Even though industrial rents rose some 32 per cent last year, they are still about 30 per cent below their peak in 1996. Hence, the analysts reckon there is still room for stronger catch-up in industrial rents as Singapore’s manufacturing moves towards knowledge-based industries such as research and development and the biomedical sector.

In addition, the longer weighted average leases for industrial space and the lower likelihood of industrial tenants terminating their leases before expiry give industrial Reits further defensiveness in their income stream.

Elsewhere, retail rents have shown the greatest resilience during economic downturns, and tenants also showed the least propensity for cutbacks in demand for space in poor economic conditions, the CIMB-GK analysts said. Efforts by the government to boost Singapore as a financial and tourism hub also bode well for the retail sector.

They noted that between the last rental peak in 1996-1997 and the rental trough in 2003-2004, retail rents fell the least – by 34 per cent, compared with 45 per cent for industrial rents and 54 per cent for office rents.

‘Furthermore, the retail segment also has the greatest potential to grow organically via enhancements to facades, layouts and tenant mixes,’ they added. ‘This trait further enhances the defensive nature of retail Reits, particularly when prices may not be conducive and funding for acquisitions may not be readily available.’

Credit Suisse analysts also favour retail Reits for their more defensive nature, particularly CapitaMall Trust and Frasers Centrepoint Trust.

For investors with a higher risk appetite, CIMB-GK analysts recommend hospitality Reits, which hold growth potential from expected increases in business and leisure travel but are seen to be most vulnerable to external risks.

In contrast, the outlook for property developers is more clouded. CIMB-GK said its models have factored in 10-20 per cent declines in property prices in the mid-luxury segment, but it has upgraded its rating on the sector to ‘neutral’ from ‘underweight’ due to current low valuations.

Source : Business Times – 21 May 2008

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