Are These Retail REITs Trading For Less Than What They’re Worth?

The price-to-book (PB) ratio is a popular way to value a real estate investment trust (REIT).

The P/B ratio is calculated by dividing the market capitalisation of a REIT with its book value, or net asset value. Theoretically, having a P/B ratio that is less than 1 means that a REIT is trading for less than what it’s worth – an investor who buys the REIT could liquidate all its assets, settle all its obligations, and still end up with a profit.

recent report indicated that the average P/B ratio for Singapore’s REIT universe (the local stock market has 27 REITs and six stapled trusts) was 0.9. The list of 33 trusts included eight Retail REITs, as defined by the Global Industry Classification Standard.

Here’re five quick highlights from the report on the eight Retail REITs (figures as of 8 June 2016, unless otherwise stated):

  1. Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (SGX: D5IU) has a P/B ratio of 0.9. The REIT is home to 19 retail malls and seven retail spaces in Indonesia and offers a distribution yield of 9.9%. While the REIT’s yield looks high, it’s worth noting that its total returns over the past three years have been a negative 15%.
  2. CapitaLand Retail China Trust (SGX: AU8U) also has a P/B ratio of 0.9. The REIT offers a distribution yield of 6.7% and has recorded a total return of 19.1% over the past three years. It is focused on the ownership of retail malls in China and currently has stakes in 10 shopping malls across six Chinese cities.
  3. Meanwhile, Starhill Global Real Estate Investment Trust (SGX: P40U) is yet another REIT with a P/B ratio of 0.9. The REIT has stakes in Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City in Singapore. In all, the REIT owns commercial as well as retail properties in four other countries, namely Australia, China, Japan, and Malaysia. Over the past three years, Starhill Global REIT has delivered total returns of 4.9%. The REIT offers a 6.5% distribution yield.
  4. Not all retail REITs are trading below their book values. SPH REIT (SGX: SK6U), whose portfolio only has two properties right now (the retail malls Paragon and Clementi Mall in Singapore), trades at its book value. The REIT offers a distribution yield of 6.0% and has recorded a negative total return of 5.8% over the past year.
  5. CapitaLand Mall Trust (SGX: C38U) is one REIT that has a P/B ratio of over 1 – more specifically, the REIT has a P/B ratio of 1.1. CapitaLand Mall Trust, which owns 16 retail malls here, is the Singapore stock market’s first and oldest REIT. It offers a 5.3% distribution yield and has total returns of 14% over the past three year.

The P/B ratio represents a starting point for investors who are looking for REITs that may be undervalued. Valuation, though, has to be complemented by understanding a REIT’s asset quality, the performance of the REIT’s portfolio in the past, and its future prospects, among other important things.

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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 contributor Chin Hui Leong doesn't own shares in any company mentioned.