Is CapitaLand Mall Trust (SGX:C38U) A Healthy REIT?

CapitaLand Mall Trust is a S$8.5b mid-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Singapore, Singapore. REITs are basically a portfolio of income-producing real estate investments, which are owned and operated by management of that trust company. They have to meet certain requirements in order to become a REIT, meaning they should be analyzed a different way. I’ll take you through some of the key metrics you should use in order to properly assess C38U.

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A common financial term REIT investors should know is Funds from Operations, or FFO for short, which is a REIT’s main source of income from its portfolio of property, such as rent. FFO is a cleaner and more representative figure of how much C38U actually makes from its day-to-day operations, compared to net income, which can be affected by one-off activities or non-cash items such as depreciation. For C38U, its FFO of S$428m makes up 94% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

SGX:C38U Historical Debt January 17th 19
SGX:C38U Historical Debt January 17th 19

In order to understand whether C38U has a healthy balance sheet, we have to look at a metric called FFO-to-total debt. This tells us how long it will take C38U to pay off its debt using its income from its main business activities, and gives us an insight into C38U’s ability to service its borrowings. With a ratio of 13%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take C38U 7.62 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.

I also look at C38U’s interest coverage ratio, which demonstrates how many times its earnings can cover its yearly interest expense. This is similar to the concept above, but looks at the upcoming obligations. The ratio is typically calculated using EBIT, but for a REIT stock, it’s better to use FFO divided by net interest. With an interest coverage ratio of 4.11x, it’s safe to say C38U is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

I also use FFO to look at C38U’s valuation relative to other REITs in Singapore 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. In C38U’s case its P/FFO is 20.08x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is overvalued.

Next Steps:

CapitaLand Mall Trust 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 C38U:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for C38U’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for C38U’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is C38U 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 C38U 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.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.