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5 Takeaways from Keppel DC REIT’s 2019 First-Quarter Earnings

Keppel DC REIT (SGX: AJBU) released its 2019 first-quarter earnings update yesterday evening. The REIT currently owns 15 data centres across eight countries that are worth a total of S$2 billion as of 31 March 2019.

Here are five key takeaways from Keppel DC REIT’s latest earnings update:

1. Gross revenue for 2019’s first-quarter continued to show good growth, rising by 26.4% year on year to S$48.0 million. This was due to contributions from the acquisitions of Maincubes Data Centre in Offenbach am Main, Germany, as well as Keppel DC Singapore 5, in 2018. Property expenses rose by 22.5%, resulting in net property income registering growth of 26.8% to S$43.2 million. Distribution income and distribution per unit (DPU) for the reporting quarter rose by 30% and 6.7%, respectively, to S$27.1 million and 1.92 Singapore cents. Keppel DC REIT’s unit price closed at S$1.49 on 15 April 2019; at that price, the REIT has an annualised distribution yield of 5.2%.

2. Keppel DC REIT’s property portfolio is worth S$2 billion at the end of 2019’s first-quarter, of which the bulk, 51%, is in Singapore. Total exposure to Asia is 67.4%, while the remaining 32.6% is in Europe (see the portfolio breakdown below). The REIT’s occupancy rate rose slightly from 93.1% in the previous sequential quarter to 93.2%, but the weighted average lease expiry (WALE) declined from 8.3 years to 8.0 years.

Source: Keppel DC REIT 2019 first-quarter earnings presentation

3. The REIT is performing enhancement works to three of its assets at the moment:

a) At Keppel DC Singapore 3, retrofitting works are under way to cater for a client’s expansion, and completion is expected in mid-2019.
b) At Keppel DC Dublin 1, asset enhancement works are ongoing to improve energy efficiency, and completion is expected in 2020.
c) At Keppel DC Dublin 2, the REIT is carrying out power upgrade and fit-out works for client expansion, and completion is expected in the second half of 2019.

4. Aggregate leverage for the REIT has inched up slightly from 30.8% in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 32.5% in the reporting quarter, due to higher gross borrowings. This still leaves considerable room for the REIT to borrow more for acquisitions as its leverage is below the regulatory gearing-ceiling of 45%. During 2019’s first-quarter, Keppel DC REIT issued €50 million worth of 7-year floating rate notes that will come due in 2026. This debt-issue lowered Keppel DC REIT’s cost of debt from 1.9% in the previous sequential quarter to 1.7%, and increased the average debt tenor from 3 years to 3.3 years. The REIT’s interest coverage ratio also improved from 11.4 times to 12.9 times.

5. Keppel DC REIT shared that total mobile data traffic is expected to increase by 31% annually to reach 136 exabytes per month by the end of 2024. Mordor Intelligence also expects the cloud gaming market to grow at 15% per year between 2018 and 2023. These two trends alone bode well for the demand for data centres to grow steadily over the medium term at least, which will underpin growth for the REIT.

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The Motley Fool Singapore contributor Royston Yang contributed to this article. Royston owns shares in Keppel DC REIT.

The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalized investment or financial advice. The Motley Fool Singapore writer Chong Ser Jing does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.