Just keep on buying, folks

Posted On Wednesday, 14 December 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Investors in property have had another wonderful year on the listed sector, with a total return of about 33%

Angelique de Rauville

This may be lower than the 39% they would have got from equities, but measured on reward-to-risk according to the traditional Sharpe ratio (which aims to identify portfolios that give a high average rate of return with minimised fluctuations), property was the better performer. This is the heart of the matter, says First South Securities property analyst Leon Allison.

Low-risk, steadily growing long-term returns are the main reason investors should continue in property. It's a defensive investment. "Property is not as volatile as equities, yet you can expect a similar return on investment," says Allison. He expects the property sector to give a 14% total return next year, compared with 12% from equities. Deducting tax from the property income - other listed company dividends are tax-free - and adjusting for risk will give investors a similar return again.

If you buy at an initial 7,5% return and get a 10% increase in payouts, your return next year could be close to 9%, he adds.

Both Allison and Investec property fund MD Angelique de Rauville say that if long-term interest rates rise by 100 basis points next year, rising property rents and fund payouts will sustain investor income and asset value.

"There is good value in the sector," says De Rauville. "If you buy today you will be better off this time next year. We don't think interest rates will rise even 100 basis points and share prices will not drop."

She says most listed fund managers are predicting payout increases of near 10% next year, "but they seem to be erring on the side of caution. There's a sense of strong growth for all the usual reasons: low interest rates, growing employment, falling vacancies, higher rents when leases are renegotiated and a booming economy."

In any case, she adds: "What are the alternatives? Cash is likely to give a 6% return and bonds about 8%. People who find the low current return disappointing must wake up to the fact that we are in a new economy, in which a 14% return on 5% inflation gives an excellent real return."

Rode & Associates' Erwin Rode says the improving property fundamentals mean that cash flows are growing strongly and will probably accelerate next year. "If you buy at an initial 7%- 8% return, you can expect a 7%-8% increase in value, giving you a total return of about 14%. Where can you do better than that?"

The banking sector, for one. Former property analyst Harry Boonzaaier, now banking analyst at First South Securities, expects this sector to show a 25% total return next year. And there are probably others.

But given the long-term recovery in commercial property that is still in its early stages, and the certainty of continuing growth in payouts at low risk, there are few long-term investments to beat this sector.

Last modified on Thursday, 08 May 2014 18:35

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