MERLIN Properties weathers Covid-19 thanks to the diversification of the portfolio
- Operating profit exceeds € 262 million (equivalent to €0.56 per share), with a decrease of -16.2% vs. 2019, due to the pandemic impact.
- The outstanding quality of our portfolio in terms of assets and tenants helps to preserve the performance in offices and net leases. E-commerce has boosted logistics and has offset the Covid-19 effect in shopping centers, heavily affected by closures and restrictions.
- The net asset value as per EPRA recommendations (“EPRA NTA”) stands at €15.46 per share, with a 0.5% growth YoY.
- LTV stands at 39.9%, with a very strong liquidity position of €1.25bn and with a very high collection rate.
Madrid, 25 February – MERLIN Properties has reported FY2020 results, with total revenues of €508.6 million (including gross rents of € 503.4 million), recurring EBITDA of €365.4 million and operating profit of €262.4 million (€0.56 per share). Positive net earnings of €56.4 million, despite the adjustment in valuation and assets sold. The estimated impact of foregone rents (fixed, variable and mall income) and extraordinary expenses incurred as a result of Covid-19 has amounted to over €64 million, equivalent to €0.14 per share. €10 million in costs savings achieved, equivalent to €0.02 per share, due to management waiver of compensation.
The gross asset value (GAV) of the portfolio amounts to €12.811 million (+0.5% vs. 2019), the biggest increase in logistics (+8.0%). Offices and net leases remain in line with 2019 and shopping centers has suffered an adjustment of -8.7%. The net asset value of the portfolio amounts to €7,263 million (€15.46 per share), with an increase of 0.5% vs 2019.
MERLIN Properties continues to actively manage their balance sheet and collection rate during this complicated year. After the issuance and repayment of bonds and the early repayment of mortgage debt, the LTV stands at 39.9%, with a liquidity position of €1.25 bn and an average debt maturity of 6 years. The uncollected rate has been insignificant.
- Business performance
Good performance in the period with a 2.2% like-for-like rent increase. Tenant turnover has been mitigated during the pandemic, with a renewal rate of 83%. The average rent increase has been 3.0%. Occupancy remained high, at 91.1%, despite a challenging market environment.
- Landmark Plan I
The Plan is in its final phase, with 3 projects under way. Both Castellana 85 in Madrid and Monumental in Lisbon will be delivered in the second quarter of 2021, with full occupancy. Castellana 85 will be the HQ of Accenture and Elecnor in Madrid whereas Monumental will be BPI’s HQ in Portugal. Both projects display very attractive yield on cost. These deliveries will be followed by the refurbishment of Plaza Ruiz Picasso, in the heart of Azca, a large-scale project that will commence in the third quarter.
- Business performance
The logistics market has been boosted by the pandemic-driven growth in online sales. Logistics has surpassed Shopping Centers, becoming the second most important asset category for the Company, which is the leader in the Iberian market with more than 1.8 million sqm under operation and €86 million in gross annual rents, including the proportionate contribution of Zal Port Barcelona. MERLIN will further reinforce this leadership with future developments included in Best II & III plans and in Zal Port. These developments will generate more than 1 million of additional sqm and future estimated rents of €55 million.
The like-for-like rent increase in logistics has been 1.8%, with a release spread of 6.0% and almost full occupancy: 97.5%.
- Best Plan II & III
During 2020, 237,046 new sqm have been delivered in the main Spanish hubs, including A-2 Cabanillas, A-4 Seseña, ZAL Port Barcelona, Sevilla Zal and Zaragoza-Plaza II. These projects have already been delivered and let to tenants such as DSV, Amazon, UPS, DAMM, Agility or Lidl. 450.677 sqm are still under construction, of which 290.399 sqm are already pre-let. Land banks for future developments amount to an additional 589.662 sqm of buildable area.
- Business performance
Shutdowns and severe attendance restrictions have heavily affected Shopping Centers for many months of the year, severely reducing footfall and tenant sales, which have fallen 36% and 37% respectively.
MERLIN implemented a commercial policy in March to all tenants affected by the compulsory lockdown. In June, an additional commercial policy was approved to help tenants maintain their OCRs at sustainable levels. In return, tenants have extended their contracts until 2022, securing our occupancy in the portfolio during 2020 and 2021. In October, a new commercial policy was launched for the first half of 2021, forecasting further difficulties at the beginning of the year due to new waves of the virus until minimum vaccination levels are reached. More than 95% of our tenants have accepted these policies in Spain.
- Flagship Plan
Porto Pi in Mallorca and Saler in Valencia are finalizing their works, with expected delivery date for both Saler and Porto Pi during the second quarter of 2021, after which, all works in the Flagship Plan will be finalized.
Preserving portfolio value
The gross asset value (GAV) of MERLIN amounts to €12,811 million as of December 31st 2020, following the appraisals performed by Savills, CBRE and JLL, versus a GAV of €12,751 million in 2019. By asset categories, offices and net leases have weathered the virus impact, maintaining the valuations in line with 2019; logistics, boosted by the market and the excellent performance of the portfolio, has increased by 8.0%. Shopping Centers has suffered an 8.7% decrease.
Net asset value amounts to €7,263 million, equivalent to €15.46 EPRA NTA per share, with a slight increase of 0.5% versus 2019 (€15.39 per share).
As part of its non-core asset disposals policy, MERLIN has divested circa €244 million, including 3 shopping centers, 3 logistics warehouses and 20 BBVA branches.
Despite the pandemic, the Company has continued to achieve its goals in terms of sustainability. The different initiatives have been clustered into three main groups: “Sustainable assets” which includes the future net zero emissions plan and initiatives that push towards energy efficiency actions and renewable energy consumption, with the immediate installation of photovoltaic solar panels in 24 assets; “Sustainable construction” which groups together the future plan to reduce carbon emissions in developments as well as urban regeneration projects such as Madrid Nuevo Norte or Renazca; and finally, “Sustainable mobility” refers to realities such as MERLIN Hub or the initiative to install electric chargers across our portfolio (with more than 800 already installed and 900 underway), as well as our innovative last-mile logistics project.
MERLIN has obtained a very good score in the 2020 edition of GRESB (78 out of 100) and in the Carbon Disclosure Project (B). Furthermore, progress continues in the portfolio’s certification program, having achieved 42 new LEED/BREEAM certifications in 2020, bringing the percentage of certified buildings to over 82% and making it feasible to reach the ambitious target of 99% certified by 2022, set out years ago.
Future outlook for 2021
The Company envisages another complicated year and has drawn up its contingency plans considering a general scenario similar to 2020, although we expect an accelerating recovery from summer onwards.
In retail, we will experience a small decrease in occupancy due to tenants not being able to overcome the crisis. In offices, occupancy is also expected to be affected by space reductions as a result of the negative economic outlook and sporadic tenant bankruptcies. On the other hand, logistics will continue to grow and the net leases portfolio will continue to act as a safe haven, providing a significant volume of rents. In addition, the Company counts with a number of additional revenues secured by all the projects being delivered in 2021, amounting to €14 million in the period. This will help face another difficult year with the relative comfort to, at least, repeat or slightly improve the 2020 results.
For 2021 and with the scenario described above, the Company estimates its operating profit at €265 million or €0.56 per share. A final 2020 dividend of €0.25 per share will be requested to the Board, allowing a prudent cash retention.
About MERLIN Properties
MERLIN Properties SOCIMI, S.A. (MC:MRL) is the largest real estate company trading on the Spanish Stock Exchange. Specialized in the acquisition and management of commercial property in the Iberian region. MERLIN Properties mainly invests in offices, shopping centers and logistics facilities, within the Core and Core Plus segments, forming part of the benchmark IBEX-35, Euro STOXX 600, FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Global Real Estate, GPR Global Index, GPR-250 Index, and MSCI Small Caps indices.
Please visit www.merlinproperties.com to learn more about the company.
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