Ascott Residence Trust - UOB Kay Hian 2022-05-05: 1Q22 Reopening Resumes & Business Travellers Return In March


Ascott Residence Trust - 1Q22 Reopening Resumes & Business Travellers Return In March

  • Portfolio RevPAU increased 22% y-o-y to S$67 in 1Q22. Ascott Residence Trust benefitted from a strong pick-up in Mar 22 in countries with large domestic markets, such as the US, the UK, Japan and Australia, due to pent-up demand.
  • Ascott Residence Trust plans to raise the asset allocation target in longer-stay assets, such as student accommodation and rental housing, by 10ppt to 25-30% of portfolio value in the medium term.
  • Ascott Residence Trust's distribution yield is expected to improve from 4.4% for 2022 to 5.4% for 2023. Maintain BUY. Target price: S$1.32.

Ascott Residence Trust (ART SP) provided a business update for 1Q22.

  • Recovery and reopening resumed in March as new cases of Omicron variant eased. Ascott Residence Trust (SGX:HMN)'s portfolio RevPAU increased 22% y-o-y to S$67 in 1Q22, powered by higher occupancy and recovery in average daily rate. Jan-Feb 22 was affected by restrictions imposed to control the spread of the Omicron variant. Ascott Residence Trust benefitted from strong pick-up in Mar 22 in countries with large domestic markets, such as the US, the UK, Japan and Australia, due to pent-up demand. International corporate and leisure bookings are recovering as more countries reopen their borders to vaccinated travellers.
  • US: Benefitting from increase in international bookings. RevPAU recovered 31% y-o-y to US$76 in 1Q22. Performance of Element New York Times Square West and voco Times Square South improved y-o-y. Sheraton Tribeca New York, which was previously block booked for healthcare workers, saw softer performance. Recovery started in Feb 22 and is expected to be sustained into 2Q22 due to an increase in international booking. voco Times Square South, which is within walking distance from Jacob K Javits Convention Center, benefits from convention-related demand.
  • UK: Bright prospects for sustained recovery. RevPAU increased 400% y-o-y to £70 in 1Q22 (lockdown in 1Q21). The UK no longer requires COVID-19 tests and quarantine for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers since Feb 22. Long stays and student groups provide a strong base. The uptick in demand from business travel and corporate groups since Feb 22 led to higher rates. Bookings from international travellers have grown to 40% of its business in 1Q22. The recovery extends into 2Q22 due to pick-up in domestic travel and the slew of public holidays (Easter, Bank Holiday and Jubilee weekend).
  • Australia: Companies restarted business travel. RevPAU increased 6% y-o-y to A$71 in 1Q22. Revenue was affected as some hotels transitioned from block bookings to serving public guests. Pent-up demand led to a surge in bookings in Mar-Apr 22. Demand from the corporate segment spiked in Mar 22 as companies restarted business travel. Travel confidence has improved and events, such as F1 Grand Prix, are expected to provide further uplift in 2Q22.
  • Japan: Cautious and gradual reopening in progress. RevPAU increased 37% y-o-y to ¥2,699 in 1Q22. There was an uptick in leisure demand since quasi-emergency curbs were lifted in Mar 22. Japan also reopened for business travellers and foreign students in Mar 22. The Go To domestic travel campaign is expected to be reintroduced in coming months, further boosting domestic tourism.

Pivot towards longer-stay properties.

  • Occupancy for its student accommodation properties was close to 100%. Occupancy for rental housing properties was above 95%. Longer-stay properties, such as student accommodation & rental housing, accounted for 28% of gross profit in 1Q22 and 17% of AUM as of Mar 22.
  • Contributions from development projects. Ascott Residence Trust’s maiden development project, the 324-unit coliving property lyf one-north, soft opened in Nov 21 and has achieved occupancy above 85%. It is in close proximity to one-north MRT station. Bookings were mainly from companies and educational institutions located in the vicinity.
  • Financial capacity to support future acquisitions. Aggregate leverage is healthy at 37.8% as of Mar 22 (bank loans: 73% and medium-term notes 27%), which provides debt headroom of S$1.8b. Its cost of debt is low at 1.6%. 70% of its total borrowings are on fixed interest rates. The proportion is expected to increase to 78% after the refinancing of short-term floating rate loan taken to finance the recent acquisition of student accommodation properties.

Setting sights on a higher goal.

  • Management plans to raise the asset allocation target in longer-stay assets by 10ppt from 15-20% to 25-30% in the medium term.
  • Value creation through asset recycling. Ascott Residence Trust divested six properties at an average exit yield of 2% and total proceeds of S$580m. The capital freed up was reinvested in 11 yield-accretive rental housing and student accommodation properties for total consideration of S$780m and an average EBITDA yield of 5%. Ascott Residence Trust’s longer-stay assets currently account for 17% of AUM.

Ascott Residence Trust - Earnings forecast revision

Jonathan KOH CFA UOB Kay Hian Research | https://research.uobkayhian.com/ 2022-05-05
SGX Stock Analyst Report BUY MAINTAIN BUY 1.32 UP 1.290