Link Reit distributable income jumps 14pc

Despite trend of falling retail sales, the landlord looks to improvements in household earnings

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 2:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 5:03am

The Link Real Estate Investment Trust, Asia's largest reit, said its total distributable income rose 14.36 per cent year on year to HK$3.83 billion for the year to March.

Revenue rose 10 per cent to HK$7.16 billion while net property income increased 12.7 per cent to HK$5.2 billion.

Total distribution per unit for the year increased 13.2 per cent to HK$1.6574. That represents a distribution yield of 4.3 per cent based on the closing market price of HK$38.15 on March 31.

The Link Management, which manages the reit, projected a positive outlook for the company despite slowing retail sales in Hong Kong.

Retail sales in April fell 9.8 per cent year on year to HK$38.8 billion, the Census and Statistics Department said on Wednesday.

It was the third month of decline, after drops of 1.3 per cent in March and 2.3 per cent in February.

"Retail sales in Hong Kong may slow down in the coming months, but sales growth in non-discretionary items (major items in the reit's malls) remains stable," said George Hongchoy, chief executive of The Link Management, adding that it was helped by a steady improvement in household income and favourable employment conditions.

He said improvements in asset quality and the underlying property values - supported by strong rental growth - should offset pressure from any increase in interest rates.

The reit's leasing strategy consists of pursuing sustainable rental growth, introducing an eclectic tenant mix in its properties and reducing long-term vacancies. It hit an occupancy rate of 94.4 per cent for its property portfolio in the year to March 31.

It said it would continue to review its portfolio, including the possibility of selling some of it. Last month, the reit sold properties worth HK$1.24 billion in four shopping centres. The money will be used as general working capital.

On the reit's plans to expand its portfolio across the border, Hongchoy said it could deploy about HK$20 billion through borrowing to fund property investments while maintaining a healthy financial position. But he added the company would not rush in its mainland investments.

During the year to March 31, net asset value per unit grew 16.8 per cent to HK$41.69.