CapitaLand Retail China Trust: Is It A Bargain-Priced REIT?

CapitaLand Retail China Trust (SGX: AU8U), a real estate investment trust which owns shopping malls in China, closed at S$1.41 per unit yesterday.

Is the REIT overvalued or undervalued at that price? That’s something we’d find out below.

The art of value

A REIT’s value should be a key deciding factor for investors when it comes to making an investing decision.

There are two main ways for investors to estimate the value of a REIT. One method works forward, in that an investor will try to estimate the growth rates that a REIT will achieve in important financial metrics like its distribution per unit (DPU) and/or net asset value per unit.

The other works backward, in that we can look at a REIT’s current price and work out how much growth the market’s expecting the trust to achieve. From that, we can determine if the market’s expectations are reasonable or ridiculous.

Moving backwards

In this example, we’d be using a variant of a simple dividend discount model called the Gordon Growth Model to figure out how much growth in distribution the market’s expecting CapitaLand Retail China Trust to achieve.

A dividend discount model is meant to value a company based on the total amount of dividends that the firm would distribute to shareholders in perpetuity; the Gordon Growth Model simply adds in a factor to account for a company’s future growth in dividends. The formula for the Gordon Growth Model is shown below:

Share Price = Expected Dividend Per Share One Year From Now / (Discount Rate – Dividend Growth Rate)

CapitaLand Retail China Trust’s annual DPU for its fiscal year ended 31 December 2014 (FY2014) was 9.82 Singapore cents, roughly 8.8% higher than the year before. The REIT’s DPU for the first-half of 2015 is at 5.37 cents; annualising that number would put the annual DPU for the whole year at 10.74 cents.

The estimate of the annual DPU of 10.74 cents in 2015 is 9.4% higher than that seen in 2014 and it seems reasonable, so let’s stick with that figure for this exercise.

As for the Discount Rate, the textbook method – which follows the Capital Asset Pricing Model (it’s perfectly acceptable to not follow the CAPM when trying to estimate the value of a stock, but I’d still use the model in here for the sake of completeness) – is to incorporate the risk-free rate as well as the beta of CapitaLand Retail China Trust.

The risk-free rate is normally taken to be the 10-year government bond yield; currently, the yield on a 10-year Singapore government bond is around 2.4% and so, that shall be our risk-free rate.

Meanwhile, the beta of any stock is simply a measure of a stock’s volatility in relation to a broad market index; in CapitaLand Retail China Trust’s case, data taken from investing research outfit Morningstar has the beta figure pegged at 1.35.

With the explanations out of the way, here’s how the formula for the Discount Rate looks like:

Discount Rate = Risk Free Rate + Beta (Market Return – Risk Free Rate)

You’d notice that there’s one last variable in the Discount Rate formula which I have not discussed, and that is the Market Return.

The Market Return is simply the long-term return of the stock market as a whole. In this exercise, I’d be using the long-run return of the SDPR STI ETF (SGX: ES3), an exchange-traded fund which tracks Singapore’s market barometer, the Straits Times Index (SGX: ^STI). Since its inception in April 2002, the SPDR STI ETF has generated a total annual return (inclusive of reinvested dividends) of 7.11%.

So, when we input all the relevant figures into the Discount Rate formula, we’d end up with a Discount Rate of 8.76% for CapitaLand Retail China Trust.

The next thing we have to do now is to punch all the numbers we have obtained so far into the Gordon Growth Model. This is what we’d end up with:

1.41 = (0.1074) / (0.0876 – Dividend Growth Rate)

As you can see, the only variable that’s now unknown in the Gordon Growth Model is CapitaLand Retail China Trust’s future growth in distribution. Some basic arithmetic will bring us to the conclusion that the market expects the REIT to grow its distributions at an annual pace of 1.14% per year over the long-term future.

So what’s the value?

The expected growth rate of 1.14% can then be used to compare against our own assessment of what CapitaLand Retail China Trust may be able to achieve. For a historical perspective, CapitaLand Retail China Trust has been growing its DPU at an annual clip of 3.82% from FY2009 to FY2014.

So, based on all the above assumptions, if you expect CapitaLand Retail China Trust to be able to grow its distributions at a faster clip than 1.14% annually, the trust will be undervalued at S$1.41. But, if you’re not confident at all about CapitaLand Retail China Trust’s growth and think that its future distributions will step up at a much slower pace, then S$1.41 might be too high a price to pay.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore writer Stanley Lim doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.