by: Dean Goh for ProButterfly.comTM
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Mega real estate developers like Mapletree Investments and CapitaLand Limited own a gamut of properties worldwide. As a result, there are many SGX-listed REITs whose stock names contain the Mapletree or CapitaLand brand names.
This could be confusing for investors, who find it tough distinguishing such REITs. This is even more so when 2 different REITs with the same developers operate in the same industry (e.g. Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust and Mapletree Commercial Trust).
Hence, in this series “Know Your REITs”, ProButterfly will shed some light on the differences between some similarly named REITs. In the first part of this series, we take a look at the two Mapletree-branded Industrial REITs - Mapletree Industrial Trust (“MIT”) and Mapletree Logistics Trust (“MLT”).
Here is Part 1 of MIT vs MLT, we take a look at the differences in the properties owned by these 2 REITs and the implications following the different set of properties they own:
MIT’s portfolio of properties spans 5 industrial property types, while MLT solely operates the Logistics industrial property type. The table below shows the breakdown of the different industrial properties found owned by MIT and MLT:
The different industrial property types are hardly understood by the common man so here are some brief descriptions of them:
Around 90% of MIT’s portfolio of properties (by asset value) are located in Singapore. The rest are located in the USA.
On the other hand, MLT’s portfolio of properties is more geographically diverse. While a majority of MLT’s properties (by asset value) are located in Singapore, MLT’s properties can also be found quite significantly in Hong Kong and Japan.
So Heaven is fair - where MLT lacks in diversity in their industrial properties, it is made up for with the geographic diversification of its properties!
*Only the top 5 countries where MLT has the largest property asset value in were listed in the table.
Let’s take a quick look at the tenant profiles and trade sectors occupying the properties of MIT and MLT.
From the above tenant base statistics, MIT seems to have a more diversified tenant base than MLT. This is only natural as MIT operates across a wider range of activities in the supply chain that can fit the varying operations of companies from different industries.
But quantity does not equate to quality. So while MIT has a diversified tenant base, can its tenants pay their rental income on time or do they default on their payments?
Since we can’t scrutinize every tenant of MIT, let’s just take a look at their largest tenants. MIT’s largest tenants belong to huge MNCs like HP, AT & T, Equinix, Dell, et cetera. These are huge MNCs who don’t look like going bust anytime soon. It would have been a different picture for MIT if its largest tenants were SMEs!
Fig. 4: Tenant Profile of MIT’s largest tenants
Source: MIT’s 3Q FY18/19 quarterly report
MLT’s largest tenants are made up of comparatively smaller companies like CWT and Coles Group. They operate across various industries and are mostly end users so they sign longer leases than 3rd party logistics providers.
Fig. 5: Tenant Profile of MLT’s largest tenants
Source: MLT’s 3Q FY18/19 quarterly report
Almost 40% of MIT’s gross rental income comes from the manufacturing trade sector - of which 55% is made up by the Precision Engineering, Machinery and Transportation Products trade sector.
Wholesale and Retail Trade make up another 20% of MIT’s gross rental income. This trade sector mainly covers the business-to-business trading of goods such as agricultural materials, machinery and merchandise.
Other significant trade sectors include Information and Communications (19%); and Financial and Business Services (12%)
Fig. 6: Trade Sectors operating in MIT
Source: MIT’s 3Q FY18/19 quarterly report
Thus, the breadth of industrial properties owned by MIT allows it to conduct a diverse range of industrial and office activities in its properties worldwide.
However, as MLT operates only Logistics industrial properties comprising Distribution Centres and Warehouses, the range of activities conducted in MLT’s properties is much more limited.
The top 3 trade sectors (by gross revenue) operating in MLT’s properties are in F&B (20%), Consumer Durables (12%) and Electronics & IT (11%). The “Others” component of MLT’s tenant contribute to 15% of MLT’s gross revenue.
Fig. 7: Trade Sectors operating in MLT
Source: MLT’s 3Q FY18/19 quarterly report
Singapore Industrial property market
The main source of a REIT’s revenue is the rental income it receives. Thus, it is a good sign if the REIT’s properties can command higher rental rates. Not all industrial properties command the same rental rate industry-wide.
As mentioned above, Business Parks and Hi Specs Buildings operate more knowledge and capital intensive activities while factories and Logistics space cater mostly for storage facilities or are involved mainly in the production of consumer goods
Hence, Business Parks and Hi-Specs Buildings require more sophisticated infrastructure to support their higher value added activities. This also means that the they command higher rental rates than factories and warehouses.
The table below shows the trend of average industrial rents commanded by various types of industrial spaces in Singapore.
Fig. 8: Average Industrial Rents in Singapore
Source: ESR REIT Presentation Slides FY 4Q 2018
The rental rates of warehouses and factory spaces have been falling since at least 1Q 2013 till 3Q 2018. This came about as the supply of industrial space in the Singapore property market outstripped demand for it.
Curiously, the rental rates of Business Parks and Hi-Specs Industrials hardly fell and remained stable. These positive trends in rental rates of Business Parks and Hi-Specs Industrials are expected to continue.
2018 is the year where full-year net new demand for Industrial leases outpaced net new supply for the first time since 2011. Business Parks and Hi-Specs Industrials are expected to reap the most benefits from this encouraging trend in the industrial property market.
Fig. 9: All industrial new supply, demand and occupancy rate in Singapore
Source: Colliers International
The table below shows the year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in monthly rental rates for Business Parks and Hi-Specs, while the y-o-y decrease in monthly rental rates for factories and warehouses.
Fig. 10: Average monthly rent by different types of industrial types
Source: Colliers International
This could be due to the rising demand of tenants for newly completed and refurbished buildings with better specifications and good locations. Business Parks and Hi-Specs are also more limited in supply.
Further, with higher office content in their properties, Business Parks and Hi-Specs can also benefit from the spillover effect from a strong office rent recovery in 2018 and further office rental upside in 2019.
Rental rates for factories and Logistics properties are expected to be under more pressure, though Logistics rents is expected to recover 1-2% towards the end of 2019.
Hence, with Business Parks and Hi-Specs making up 52% of MIT’s Industrial properties (by asset value), MIT is expected to benefit from the increase in rental rates in upcoming years.
Compared to MIT, MLT is expected to be more sluggish in this aspect since it owns solely Logistics properties.
Hong Kong Industrial Property Market
But remember, Hong Kong (HK) logistics properties also take up a rather significant stake (30%) in MLT’s gross rental income. The Q4 2018 study published by Colliers on Hong Kong’s industrial property market revealed that industrial leasing in HK remains strong despite decelerating external trade figures.
In fact, warehouse rents in HK rose 1.3% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) and 7.4% y-o-y. This was due to the growth of e-commerce in HK and the increase in sales of Fast Moving Consumer Goods, leading to the increased demand for industrial space. Unlike Singapore, supply of industrial spaces in HK remained tight too.
Hence, the downturn in Logistics rental rates in Singapore will be softened by the uptick in Logistics rental rates in HK for MLT.
This is why geographic diversification is important. Different economies behave and perform differently from one another (though it would be naive to conclude they are independent of one another in this globalised world). MLT’s properties spread across the world and this means its performance is not reliant on one single economy.
Singapore’s manufacturing PMI, an indicator of manufacturing activity, has been on a downward trend since 2018. This was partly attributed to external factors like US-Sino trade tensions and the fading technology boom that have weighed down manufacturing and trade activities in key Asian economies like Singapore’s.
Precision engineering declined by 15.7% y-o-y while the machinery and systems segment fell by 20.8% y-o-y Printing fell by 11.5% y-o-y. This is negative news to MIT, whose rental income comes mainly from tenants carrying out such activities.
So, will this downward trend in manufacturing activity persist? Quoting Maybank economist Lee Ju Ye, “2019 will be a year of two halves. We are pencilling a brief manufacturing downturn in the first half, including a negative first quarter. The second half may see some rebound in manufacturing after a trade deal."
For MLT, sentiments are more positive due to the growing e-commerce market in Singapore and HK. A study by Google and Temasek predicts that Singapore’s e-commerce market could grow by more than 5 times from 2015 to 2025. This increasing expansion of online shopping would inevitably see the increased demand for warehouse space.
For MLT to ride on this trend towards e-commerce, its ability to source for modern warehouses is important. Are these warehouses organised to permit new technologies to be optimised? What about meeting local usage regulations and being strategically located to different suppliers?
MIT’s ownership of a wide range of industrial properties is a plus point, especially with a huge proportion of it coming from Business Parks and Hi-Specs. These 2 types of Industrial properties are poised to benefit from the Singapore government’s push towards “Industry 4.0”, which seeks for technological advancements in Singapore’s manufacturing sector.
Yet, it lacks the geographic diversification MLT’s portfolio of properties offers. As a result, MIT suffers the full brunt of depressed rents of its factory space. MLT, on the other hand, has the HK economy to cushion the downward pressure in rents coming from Logistics properties in Singapore.
In anticipating how the different sub sectors of industrial properties of MIT and MLT will perform, we need to keep a close eye on the respective domestic economies these properties are located and be mindful of global trends like the e-commerce boom, technological changes and US-China trade tensions.
In the next part of this series, we delve deeper into the financials of MIT and MLT. The financial performances of the REITs are the best indicator in assessing how well MIT and MLT have performed.
And what better way to do so than to analyse their financial reports! Stay tuned!
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