Keppel DC REIT - Phillip Securities 2020-04-24: Only If The Price Is Right


Keppel DC REIT - Only If The Price Is Right

  • Keppel DC REIT (SGX:AJBU)'s 1Q20 DPU of 2.08 cents was in line, forming 23% of FY20e DPU estimates.
  • Portfolio metrics healthy – long WALE of 8.3 years, portfolio occupancy at 94.7% - and AEIs to drive revenue growth.
  • While we like Keppel DC REIT for its solid portfolio and future-ready asset class, we think that upside is limited given the strong ride up in prices, and yields at c.3%, are not compelling. We recommend accumulating on pull back.
  • Downgrade to HOLD with a higher target price of $2.20 (previously $2.06).
  • We adjusted our estimates upwards while lowering the cost of equity by 100bps to reflect the lower interest rates, and lower beta slightly as we believe the data centre asset class should be less sensitive to market factors.

The Positives

Solid operating metrics.

  • Keppel DC REIT has an interest coverage of 12.8x. Their low gearing of 32.2% affords Keppel DC REIT a debt headroom of S$377mn. Demand for data centres remains strong and higher data traffic is expected due to telecommuting during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Occupancy at KDC SG 5 fully committed, up from 84.2%.

  • KDC SG 5 is currently undergoing AEI to convert 15,450 sqft (15.8%) of vacant, non-DC space to DC. This will allow Keppel DC REIT to command higher rentals. The space has since been fully committed with completion of the AEI expected in 2H20.

The Negatives

Delay in AEI and development timelines due to lockdowns.

  • Keppel DC REIT has several AEIs ongoing – Dub 1 (increase energy efficiency), KDC SG 5 (conversion of 15.8% NLA from non-DC space to DC), DC1 (fit out of shell&core space) and the development of Intellicentre 3 (delayed from 4Q20 to 1H21). Delays in completion of AEIs are due to the lockdown (and subsequent extensions) in Singapore, Ireland, and Australia. AEI completions will be delayed by 4 to 6 weeks for Ireland and c.8 weeks for Singapore.

Higher financing costs due to wider spreads.

  • Keppel DC REIT has been enjoying favourable interest rates at 1.7%. Despite the lower interest rate environment, credit spreads have widened due to increased business risk – Keppel DC REIT expects all-in debt cost to increase by 20 to 30 bps upon refinancing. Regardless, Keppel DC REIT’s credits spreads are still below 100bps and the REIT has only 6.7% of debt maturing in FY20.

Occupancy at KDC SG 2 fell from 100% to 93.5%

  • upon renewal of the lease. Downsizing was due to the end tenant’s user not renewing services. However, the management shared that the remaining space was renewed on a longer lease term.


  • Higher data traffic and the accelerated pace of cloud and technological adoption is expected as more work from home. This will cause tenants to deplete their space capacity at a faster rate than planned, which may lead to tenants needing to replenish rack space post-COVID.
  • Tax transparency for KDC SG 4 (acquired 31 Oct 19) is expected to be granted within 6 to 9 months after application, based on previous tax transparency applications (KDC SG 5’s approval took c.6months). Minor delays possible in light of the COVID-19 disruptions.
  • Gearing will increase from 30.7% to 32.8% for FY20 due to acquisition of Kelsterbach DC (Germany, TBC 1H20) and the balance of the 999-year land lease for KDC Dub 1. With Keppel DC REIT‘s strong balance sheet and high interest coverage ratio of 12.8x, we view this utilisation of gearing headroom favourably.
  • Strong price appreciation has compressed yields to the 3%-4% range, on the low side for SREITs. We like the data centre asset class due to its future-ready characteristics, growing pace of cloud and technological adoption and limited supply. Since listing, Keppel DC REIT has grown AUM by c.2.5x and DPU by 11.3%. We believe that their operating track record, strong portfolio metrics and index inclusion has driven yield compression.
  • Keppel DC REIT’s P/NAV for 2019 was 2.14x, a significant premium above other industrial SREITs. However, the stability and resilience in earnings, as well as income visibility from long WALE of 8.3 years, as well as comparison to its peers leads us to think that the premium is justified.
  • Keppel DC REIT’s low FY20e and FY21e yield of c.3.7% and 3.9% respectively are similar to the yields of US-listed data centre REITs of 1.5%-4.1%.

Downgrade to NEUTRAL with a higher target price of $2.20 (previously $2.06)

Natalie Ong Phillip Securities Research | https://www.stocksbnb.com/ 2020-04-24
SGX Stock Analyst Report HOLD DOWNGRADE ACCUMULATE 2.20 UP 2.060