One Metric To Rule Them All: SPH REIT (SGX:SK6U)

SPH REIT is a S$2.5b small-cap, real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Singapore, Singapore. 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 SK6U 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 SK6U.

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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 SK6U 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 SK6U, its FFO of S$165m makes up 110% of its gross profit, which means the majority of its earnings are high-quality and recurring.

SGX:SK6U Historical Debt November 1st 18
SGX:SK6U Historical Debt November 1st 18

SK6U’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 SK6U 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 18%, the credit rating agency Standard & Poor would consider this as significantly high risk. This would take SK6U 5.43 years to pay off using operating income alone. Given that long-term debt is a multi-year commitment this is not unusual, however, the longer it takes for a company to pay back debt, the higher the risk associated with that company.

I also look at SK6U’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 6.73x, it’s safe to say SK6U is generating an appropriate amount of cash from its borrowings.

In terms of valuing SK6U, FFO can also be used as a form of relative valuation. Instead of the P/E ratio, P/FFO is used instead, which is very common for REIT stocks. SK6U’s price-to-FFO is 15.43x, compared to the long-term industry average of 16.5x, meaning that it is fairly valued.

Next Steps:

As a REIT, SPH REIT offers some unique characteristics which could help diversify your portfolio. However, before you decide on whether or not to invest in SK6U, I highly recommend taking a look at other aspects of the stock to consider:

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for SK6U’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for SK6U’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is SK6U 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 SK6U 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.