City Developments - UOB Kay Hian 2022-02-28: 2021 Recovery In Hotel Earnings Likely To Continue Into 2022


City Developments - 2021 Recovery In Hotel Earnings Likely To Continue Into 2022

  • City Developments swung back to profitability in 2021, reporting PATMI of S$98m post its Sincere misadventure which dragged down 2020 numbers. The key positives from the result were the hotel segment’s earnings recovery and a S$0.311 distribution for 2021 which includes a distribution in specie of units in CDL Hospitality Trusts to its shareholders.
  • Maintain BUY. Target price for City Developments upgraded to S$9.20.

City Developments' 2021 results back in black.

  • City Developments (SGX:C09) reported a 25% increase in revenue to S$2.6b while at the PATMI level, the company swung back to profitability after its Sincere misadventure in 2020. Nevertheless the company missed our and consensus’ estimates due to slightly lower-than-expected revenue and higher-than-expected costs. One of the main highlights of the result was the hotel segment’s return to profitability in 2H21, with management reiterating during the analyst briefing its strong belief that the hospitality sector will imminently rebound.
  • Distributions aplenty. City Developments proposed a final cash dividend of S$0.09/share, comprising a S$0.08 ordinary and a S$0.01 special dividend, as well as a distribution in specie (DIS) of CDL Hospitality Trusts (SGX:J85) units valued at S$0.191/share. Together with the interim dividend of S$0.03, this would result in a total distribution of S$0.311/share for 2021.
  • Continued recovery in hotels. Management stated that there was a marked recovery in the RevPAR for its hotel segment in 3Q and 4Q21, especially in markets where there are big domestic bases. Its US segment saw a 73% y-o-y increase in 2021 while Europe jumped 129% y-o-y. In particular, US regional hotels have seen RevPAR approaching or even exceeding their 2019 levels. We believe that all of its markets should see sequential improvement over the course of 2022.

Frustration over its share price.

  • It was clear during the analyst briefing that City Developments was, and remains, frustrated regarding City Developments's share price which has been in a trading range of S$6.80- 7.80 for the better part of the past 12 months. The executive chairman in particular enunciated a desire to “find a strategy to move forward” so that its market valuation better reflects its “true” RNAV.
  • While a share buyback has been discussed at the board level, it ultimately felt that this is “not the answer” as it would have little effect on its share price.

Cooling measures.

  • City Developments pointed out that while 2018’s cooling measures dampened sentiment, buying nevertheless resumed within 1-2 quarters; similarly with the Dec 21 cooling measures, it believes that there are genuine home buyers in the mass and mid-market who do not want to overly delay their purchases and thus the market will adapt to the higher stamp duties. In addition, City Developments does not believe that its luxury segment will be deterred by the higher taxes. This echoes the sentiment of other market players that we have spoken to.
  • City Developments’s capex plans for 2022 will mainly focus on its hotels business; however this is not likely to be significant. The greatest single asset that the company will devote capex to will be the Fuji Xerox redevelopment; however, even here it will relate to construction costs. City Developments believes that it has more than adequate dry powder given the recent divestment proceeds and recovery in its business segments. In addition, it highlighted the completion and TOP of various Singapore assets over 2022-23 which will lead to an influx of cash.

UK REIT – still a work in progress with IPO on track for the next 6-12 months.

  • City Developments stated that it is witnessing a strong recovery in London’s office market with its Aldgate asset now nearly 100% leased out (with only the cafe space unoccupied at present) while its 125 Broad St asset has increased its occupancy from low 90s to high 90% in the past few months.
  • In our view, this should provide a solid backdrop for the launch of its UK commercial REIT over the next 6+ months. City Developments also stated that it is currently looking to build on-ground property expertise and not manage its own and third-party funds.

Distribution in specie (DIS) of CDL Hospitality Trusts (SGX:J85) units

  • In our view, this is a positive move by City Developments as it enables the company to:
    1. improve its net gearing from 61% to 55% on a pro forma basis,
    2. recognise an estimated gain of S$468m, and
    3. enable the company to unlock further value from its hospitality portfolio through future transactions.
  • Eligible shareholders will receive 0.159 CDLHT units (valued at S$0.191) for each City Developments share held as at Record Date (date to be confirmed), thus allowing City Developments shareholders to participate in the hospitality industry’s expected growth trajectory. The DIS appears particularly timely given that it is happening just past the earnings trough as a result of COVID-19.

Upgrading City Developments' earnings forecast

Adrian LOH UOB Kay Hian Research | https://research.uobkayhian.com/ 2022-02-28
SGX Stock Analyst Report BUY MAINTAIN BUY 9.20 UP 8.500