The UK’s listed real estate sector was hard hit by the taper tantrums of 2015. It tried to recover but any hope of a return to the bull market conditions which prevailed from the lows of 2009 were snuffed out by Brexit. The sector hasn’t been the same since.
Certainly, that is what you would think if you looked at the Landsec share price. Five years ago it was 971p; today it is 980p, having celebrated the 2015 results along the way with a peak of no less than 1,453p. And Landsec is not alone. The British Land chart looks pretty similar albeit that the share price is 10% higher than it was five years ago.
Look at Landsec’s financial results and the picture is rather different: Net assets grew from £7.1bn in 2013 to £10.3bn which was rightly celebrated in 2015. Since then the number has drifted sideways – up slightly in 2016, down slightly in 2017 and, if forecasts are to be believed, up again to around £10.8bn in 2018. A billion pounds of debt has been repaid, the LTV has come down from just over 35% to almost 20% and the quality of the portfolio has been improved markedly with the sale of swathes of mid-tier retail and the redevelopment of much of the office portfolio, yet the shares trade at a 33% discount to the likely 2018 NAV.
Maybe this is because the shape of the portfolio remains broadly unchanged with 47% in London offices, 43% in retail (roughly a third of which is in London) and 10% in hotels and leisure.