Precinct-focused, retail-centred real estate investment trust Liberty Two Degrees (L2D) achieved a strong operational performance for the six months ended June 30, despite depressed market conditions.
L2D on Monday declared an interim dividend of 29.31c apiece for the reporting period, in line with guidance for the full-year.
The company’s R10.2-billion portfolio earned net property income of R337-million during the six months under review, compared with the R272-million earned in the six months ended June 30, 2018.
CEO Amelia Beattie said the increase was as a result of net property income growth of 23.81%, normalised to 6.1% when taking into account the new assets it acquired from the Liberty property portfolio late last year.
She added that the company had, in the reporting period, renewed leases covering 133 970 m2, compared with 15 022 m2 in the prior comparable period.
L2D reported an overall vacancy rate of 4.6% out of a 967 000 m2 gross leasable area.
“Trading density growth increased by 2.9%, which is reflective of continued consumer spending in our centres, with Sandton leading at 6.8% trading density growth.
“The demand for rental space is healthy and L2D concluded a further 20 513 m2 of new tenant lease agreements across the portfolio during the reporting period,” Beattie noted.
Meanwhile, in its quest for continuous innovation to create experiential spaces, L2D plans to sign a long-term partnership agreement with JCDecaux.
L2D COO Jonathan Sindin said this would be a ground-breaking partnership with the world’s largest out-of-home advertising company, which would support market retention in the company’s malls through targeted engagement and marketing with tenants and customers.
FD José Snyders commented that the company’s loan to value (LTV) in the reporting period remained conservative at 16%, with 68% of interest rate exposure being hedged as at the end of June.
“Our targeted LTV level of 35% leaves ample headroom for acquisitive growth and we are evaluating a number of opportunities.
“I believe our specialist retail skills, the positioning of our assets and implementation of our strategic pillars will drive distribution growth and unlock shareholder value. We face interesting, although challenging times, and as a team we will navigate through this with steadfast focus.
“We are committed to delivering quality property income distributions to investors and remain on track to deliver on our full-year distribution forecast,” Beattie said.