Highbrook owners GMT deliver profit of $284.4m before tax

Goodman Property Trust (GMT), the stock exchange-listed company which owns Highbrook Business Park, has reported a statutory profit of $284.4 million before tax for the year ended March 31.

It compares to $334.8m before tax previously.

Keith Smith, chairman of Goodman (NZ), said the continued execution of an investment strategy focused on the supply-constrained Auckland industrial market has contributed to another strong operating result from GMT.

“While the economic outlook has deteriorated rapidly over the last three months as a result of Covid-19, the quality of the Trust’s $3.1 billion portfolio, its focus on the industrial sector and low level of gearing will enable it to respond to future challenges and opportunities.”

GMT delivered a strong operating performance over the last 12 months, he said.

With an investment strategy focused on urban logistics it remains well-positioned for the challenges that will arise as a result of Covid-19 and beyond.

Chief executive officer John Dakin said, “Along with others in the business community, our strategy has been stress-tested throughout these last few months. Investing in the supply-constrained Auckland industrial market has delivered strong returns for unitholders and demonstrated the Trust is uniquely placed to benefit from the rapid growth in e-commerce and the critical role the city’s industrial sector plays in the national supply chain.”

FY20 result overview

GMT’s investment strategy has been refined in recent years to meet the increased demand for warehouse and distribution space across Auckland. Driven by economic growth and other structural drivers, the city’s industrial property market has to date, been New Zealand’s best performing commercial real estate sector.

Key operational and financial results of FY20 include:

A statutory profit of $284.4M before tax (including investment property valuation gains of $165.8m), compared to $334.8m before tax (including investment property valuation gains of $201.9m) previously.

A 10 percent increase in net tangible assets to 172.7 cents per unit, from 157 cents per unit at March 31, 2019.

  • Adjusted operating earnings of $109.7m before tax or 8.16 cents per unit.
  • Cash distributions of 6.65 cents per unit, representing around 107 percent of GMT’s cash earnings of 6.22 cents per unit.
  • Successful capital management initiatives with $175m of new equity raised in September and October 2019, through a $150m placement and a $25m Retail Unit Offer.
  • Substantial balance sheet capacity with reported gearing of just 18.9 percent and almost
    $400m of available liquidity, at 31 March 2020.
  • Further development progress with $158.6m of projects completed during the year and $101m of projects in progress.
  •  The acquisition of the T&G Global facility in Mt Wellington for $65m in September 2019 and, post balance date, the neighbouring property at 7-8 Monahan Road for $13m.

Strong portfolio metrics with occupancy of 99.4 percent and a weighted average lease term of 5.5 years, at March 31, 2020.

Newly completed development, Big Chill, Highbrook Business Park

Covid-19 impacts and responses

Dakin said, “Alongside many of our customers in the logistics and warehousing sectors we have continued to operate through the Alert Level restrictions, providing the critical business infrastructure that is supporting essential supply chains, while maintaining the health and safety of our people, customers and stakeholders.

“A secure and efficient supply chain, that includes warehouse and logistics facilities close to consumers, has proven to be essential for a modern city to function and grow.”

Despite the uncertain operating environment, customer demand in the online, logistics, food, consumer goods and digital economy, continues to support our portfolio fundamentals and targeted development activity.”

“The business is responding to the disruption caused by Covid-19 and we’re adapting our approach to ensure GMT’s stable cashflows and strong financial position are maintained,” Dakin said.

These initiatives have included:

Assisting vulnerable customers with rental support, balancing the needs of these businesses with our obligations to investors

Managing the development workbook by pausing certain development projects until a customer commitment is secured. While customer demand is likely to be lower, a significant number of new projects is still anticipated this year

Continuing to act prudently by raising the hurdles for new investment spending.

Outlook – FY21 guidance and changes to distribution policy

Commenting on the outlook for FY21, Dakin said, “If the portfolio continues to perform in line with our expectations, we forecast cash earnings to be materially consistent with last year, at around 6.2 cents per unit.”

To ensure the business can continue to grow sustainably, the board has amended its distribution policy for the Trust. Adopting a target payout ratio of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of cash earnings, better aligns distributions with the underlying cashflows from the Trust’s stabilised portfolio, he said.

Keith Smith said, “The amendment to the distribution policy is another step in the evolution of a high-quality, low risk property business focused on sustainable long-term growth.”

Under the new policy cash distributions of at least 5.3 cents per unit are expected to be paid in FY21.

The guidance is subject to there being no further material adverse changes in market conditions or the occurrence of other unforeseen events.