Investing In Property Through Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group (ASX:SCP)

Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group is a AU$2.4b small-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Sydney, Australia. REIT shares give you ownership of the company than owns and manages various income-producing property, whether it be commercial, industrial or residential. The structure of SCP is unique and it has to adhere to different requirements compared to other non-REIT stocks. In this commentary, I’ll take you through some of the things I look at when assessing SCP.

Check out our latest analysis for Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group

REIT investors should be familiar with the term Fund from Operations (FFO) – a REIT’s main source of cash flow from its day-to-day business activities. FFO is a higher quality measure of earnings because it takes out the impact of non-recurring sales and non-cash items such as depreciation. These items can distort the bottom line and not necessarily reflective of SCP’s daily operations. For SCP, its FFO of AU$120m makes up 66% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

ASX:SCP Historical Debt, August 24th 2019
ASX:SCP Historical Debt, August 24th 2019

SCP’s financial stability can be gauged by seeing how much its FFO generated each year can cover its total amount of debt. The higher the coverage, the less risky SCP is, broadly speaking, to have debt on its books. The metric I’ll be using, FFO-to-debt, also estimates the time it will take for the company to repay its debt with its FFO. With a ratio of 10%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as aggressive risk. This would take SCP 10 years to pay off using just operating income, which is a long time, and risk increases with time. But realistically, companies have many levers to pull in order to pay back their debt, beyond operating income alone.

Next, interest coverage ratio shows how many times SCP’s earnings can cover its annual interest payments. Usually the ratio is calculated using EBIT, but for REITs, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. This is similar to the above concept, but looks at the nearer-term obligations. With a negative interest coverage ratio, SCP’s short term interest income outweighs its interest expense, which means the coverage calculation becomes meaningless. However, it does indicate that its upcoming interest expense is already well-covered.

I also use FFO to look at SCP’s valuation relative to other REITs in Australia by using the price-to-FFO metric. This is conceptually the same as the price-to-earnings (PE) ratio, but as previously mentioned, FFO is more suitable. SCP’s price-to-FFO is 19.87x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is slightly overvalued.

Next Steps:

Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group can bring diversification into your portfolio due to its unique REIT characteristics. Before you make a decision on the stock today, keep in mind I’ve only covered one metric in this article, the FFO, which is by no means comprehensive. I’d strongly recommend continuing your research on the following areas I believe are key fundamentals for SCP:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for SCP’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for SCP’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is SCP worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even when its growth outlook is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether SCP is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.

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