Exchange Traded Funds (ETFS)

Where we’re investing in the global retail property sector

By James Maydew
BSc (Hons), MRICS Head of Global Listed Real Estate Sydney, Australia

As the world becomes more and more connected online, major disruption is occurring in the real estate industry and is giving rise to new investment opportunities.

As the world becomes more and more connected online, major disruption is occurring in the real estate industry and is giving rise to new investment opportunities. As a result, the AMP Capital Global Listed Real Estate team has identified a compelling investment opportunity within the global retail property sector that the ASX-traded AMP Capital Global Property Securities Fund (Unhedged) (Managed Fund) (ASX: RENT) has made a 12% allocation to premium shopping centre companies in the retail sector*.

The world shops online

In the 20 years since Amazon launched an online book store, e-commerce has grown its market share dramatically. The UK is expected to do 50% of its shopping on line by the end of this decade.

smsf-retail

Source: IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, 2016. Chart: CBRE Global Research 2016 (data represents non-food shopping).

This growth path has been powered by consumers who are:

  • Digitally-comfortable
  • Convenience-focused
  • Seeking choice at competitive prices

This represents an existential challenge for retailers which offer a transactional service to price-sensitive shoppers that can be matched by Amazon at lower prices. The slow demise of Toys “R” Us is merely the latest casualty of this structural shift, and shopping centres that provide a commoditised retail destination are similarly suffering as shoppers shun higher prices in unattractive environments.

Chopping off the Tail

Major retail property owners have been spinning-off or disposing of their more commoditised assets, either into new companies or the private market.

Such spin-offs have generally followed:

  • Slowing rental growth
  • Disappointing earnings
  • Significant stock underperformance
  • Investor unwillingness to provide fresh equity or debt capital for assets that require significant defensive capital expenditure

Problem assets are packaged into a new company (Spinco) that may contain higher debt levels and often trades on much lower valuation multiples. This leaves behind a higher-growth business with lower debt and a higher credit rating - which trades on higher valuation multiples - enabling it to make new investments and return to growth.

When freed of these time-intensive but sluggishly-performing assets, management teams can concentrate on growth strategies that boost sustainable rents and asset values.

Evolving to survive and prosper

Restructuring enables shopping centres in premium locations to better adapt to the e-commerce challenge and changes in shoppers’ expectations of shopping centre visits.

Shopping centres need to attract retailers where customers actually wish to shop, such as the showrooms of cutting edge onmi-channel brands such as Apple, Nike, and Tesla.

A wider range of services and entertainment will drive a genuinely differentiated ‘experience’ that protects against e-commerce disruption. This extends beyond beauty salons, health services and mobile phone repair kiosk to a wider range of mid-range restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas, and children’s play facilities.

The investment opportunity

ASX:RENT is taking advantage of this opportunity by establishing significant positions in companies that demonstrate deep relative value, such as those shopping centres positioning themselves as a ‘destination’ with a shopper experience that is hard to replicate online.

We have made a 12% allocation to premium shopping centre companies* including Taubman (US), Westfield (US/UK), Unibail-Rodamco (Europe), and Wharf (Hong Kong).

These companies manage portfolios of shopping centre assets that boast the highest retail sales figures in some of the best, most relevant locations in the world, and we believe these companies are best positioned to deliver superior risk-adjusted returns in this fast-changing environment.

Want to know more?

To learn more about ASX: RENT, view the RENT Fund Profile or email ActiveETFs@ampcapital.com if you’d like to speak to an Active ETF specialist.

In a recent webinar I also outlined 5 real estate megatrends unfolding globally today, which are also being capitalised on in ASX: RENT. Watch the 15-minute recording below to learn more.

*11.94% of the RENT portfolio as at 30 April 2018.

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Important notes

While every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) and AMP Capital Funds Management Limited (ABN 15 159 557 721, AFSL 426455)  (AMP Capital) makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This article has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this article, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This article is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided and must not be provided to any other person or entity without the express written consent of AMP Capital.

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