The last time I wrote an article on the updates on Reits was back in September 2015 (here) when the market has just experienced a black Monday incident.
I’ve personally owned a few reits in my portfolio so I have a natural vested interest in what was going on in the reits environment. Given that we are now fresh into the new year and with interest rates finally (I mean FINALLY) increasing, I think it’s important that we are forward looking in trying to analyze a few factors that might impact our selected reits.
Debt Maturity Profile
Most Reits generally thrive on low interest rate environment due to the leverage they have on their books. When interest rate rises, their costs of capital would naturally have to increase because both the costs of borrowings and cost of equity would go up so issuing either bonds or rights would become more expensive than before.
One of the basic requirement for a Reit manager is to ensure that the debt maturity profile for the company is spread out across the years so you get a normalized tandem of borrowing and repayment across subsequent years (instead of one big lump sum). There are a few who managed to lock in at attractive fixed rate while most longer term maturity are variable in nature. Some of the instruments they use for leverage can also vary from bank borrowings to long term MTN which many companies have reached out to (e.g FCT, Areit, CMT).
If you look across some of the Reits listed in the table above, they have mostly spread out across debt maturity profile of more than 3 years in general, and their funding costs are still relatively low at this point (we will see more later). One of my favourite Reits, FCT, has a shorter debt profile of 1.6 years but I’m not worried because the management is ready to roll out their issuance of MTN which they have implemented years ago as repayment. So they know what’s coming and have a plan in place. I think that’s what a good management is all about.
I used to do a 0.5% (50 basis point) sensitivity profile for my selected reits in the past and I think it’s important to understand the impact to the NPI which will ultimately affect our distribution.
I’ve heard many people citing the rising interest rate environment as bad for reits but if you think about it, it generally applies to most companies that leverage and the only way we are able to know the true impact is by going a little more in-depth about the capital structure of the company.
The sensitivity analysis is taking into account the respective reits’ profile on the debt expiry, fixed loans rate and current costs of debt rate when computing the overall impact to the distribution income. The table above is using 1% (100 basis points) increase in interest rates. Again using my favourite Reits, FCT as an example, the impact to the distributional income for a 1% increase in rates is marginally low at -1.1% and you can see from their capital structure why it is so. Of course, there are other factors which might come into play such as occupancy rates, rental reversion, lease expiry but you can see that for as long as they keep the rate increase marginally slow, the impact to the distribution will not be immediate and huge. When markets overreact to external news like this and bring the share price down, I’d knew it could become an opportunity for me.
There’s so much variable factors in play for reits than many investors would have think of and it’s interesting to see how these matured market would play out this year, given the obvious macro-economic slowdown and a rising interest rate.
The devil is always in the details, and there would be even more opportunity in a weak environment we are in now.
Are you still eyeing Reits in this current environment?