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Macro Intelligence: ASX REITs rebound amid rate cut hopes and housing boost


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Australian REITs are staging a comeback as interest rate cut expectations, housing affordability measures, and surging data center demand provide tailwinds. Explore the potential winners like Goodman, Mirvac and GPT.

 

 
IG Analyst  
 
Publication date: 

Article written by Nadine Blayney (ausbiz)

Headwinds wane & tailwinds blow


After starting 2024 with a bang on hopes for speedy interest rate cuts, the real estate investment trust (REIT) sector has since been at the mercy of changing expectations around official interest rates.

It was thought interest rate cuts would come to fruition as inflation returned to the 2-3% Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) target band. However, surprisingly strong first-quarter inflation data pushed the rate cut timetable to later in the year, throwing cold water on some of the sector’s promise.

Global investor T. Rowe Price, for example, moved to ‘neutral’ from ‘overweight’ on REITs in April, citing an expectation that bond yields would move higher due to sticky inflation.

REITs are sensitive to higher interest rates because they increase the cost of borrowing. Higher rates also tend to decrease the value of properties. Elevated interest rates can also make the relatively high dividend yields REITs offer less attractive on a risk-reward basis.

While interest rate cuts are still not expected until late in the year, tailwinds for the ASX-listed real estate sector are once again starting to blow.

Economic data is beginning to show a slowdown in the Australian economy, with the jobless rate rising to 4.1% in April. The March quarter wages data also proved to be softer than expected, which may help slow sticky services inflation. The recent data keeps the prospect of an interest rate cut on the table by the end of the year and largely rules out an interest rate hike.

ASX 30-day interbank futures signal steady rate outlook

 

original-size.webpSource: ASX

Federal budget as a catalyst

The federal budget could also prove to be a tailwind for parts of the listed property sector, with $6.2 billion in new initiatives to address housing supply pressures, including increased rent assistance, a lower foreign investment fee for build-to-rent properties, and $2 billion in new infrastructure spending for Western Sydney.

Beyond bricks and towers

The S&P/ASX 200 A-REIT index tracks the performance of Australian real estate investment trusts and mortgage REITs. Australian-listed REITs are investment vehicles that provide exposure to property assets such as office towers, shopping malls, industrial buildings, hotels, and cinemas.

Year to date, the index is up 12.08%, compared to the S&P/ASX 200, which is up 2.94%. However, there can be a stark divergence in the performance of different companies and sub-sectors within property, for example, between office and industrial real estate stocks.

A-REIT index nears record highs amid robust property market

 

original-size.webpSource: Google

Emerging trends: data centres

Data centres are also an emerging theme amongst Australian-listed REITs.

“There are so many tailwinds,” David Yuile, CEO of Global Data Centre Group, recently told ausbiz. “It's good now and it just gets better if interest rates come down and more capital will flow into the sector. And the amount of capital required in the sector is just staggering.”

A-REIT winners and losers

  • Dexus (DXS)

Macquarie published a note on Australian real estate in the wake of the Federal Budget. It points to the government’s requirement for universities to build more student accommodation as potentially positive for Dexus (DXS) and GPT Group (GPT). While Macquarie has an ‘outperform’ rating on Dexus and a $7.38 price target, the company’s share price has been under pressure, with analysts divided on their recommendation for the stock.

Dexus daily chart

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

Analyst recommendations: mean rating and price target

 

 

1Source: Refinitiv

 

  • Mirvac Group (MGR)

Macquarie expects the elevated cash rate will continue to negatively impact housing affordability; however, it says the budget’s housing package should help reduce development time frames, which is positive for Mirvac Group (MGR) and Qualitas Ltd (QAL).

Macquarie has an ‘outperform’ rating on Mirvac Group; according to Refinitiv data, the consensus call on Mirvac is ‘hold.’

Mirvac Group daily chart

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

Evolving analyst ratings highlight uncertainty around stock's prospects

 

2Source: Refinitiv

 

  • Scentre Group (SCG)

Budget efforts to alleviate some cost-of-living pressures will help drive discretionary spending, according to Macquarie, which will in turn benefit REITs such as Scentre Group (SCG), Vicinity Group (VCX), and GPT. In keeping with Macquarie’s thesis, Westpac’s May consumer confidence report supports this outlook.

Macquarie recently upgraded Scentre Group to ‘outperform’ from ‘neutral,’ with a price target revised higher by 11% to $3.37. The current consensus recommendation according to Refinitiv is ‘buy.’

Scentre Group daily chart

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

Dynamics of analyst recommendations highlight market volatility

 

3Source: Refinitiv

 

 

  • Qualitas (QAL)

Macquarie analysts say the Government’s commitment to encouraging investment in build-to-rent properties will be positive for the likes of Mirvac and Qualitas, which are becoming active in the sub-sector. Macquarie has an ‘outperform’ rating on Mirvac with a $2.89 price target.

Qualitas daily chart

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

Analyst recommendations: mean rating and price target

 

 

4Source: Refinitiv

 

  • GPT Group (GPT)

Macquarie also surmises that the government's budgeted investments in road and rail infrastructure, including $1.9 billion for projects in Western Sydney, will be positive for medium-term completions and longer-term tenant demand, benefiting companies such as Charter Hall Group (CHC), Goodman Group (GMG), GPT Group (GPT), and Mirvac (MGR).

Macquarie rates GPT ‘outperform’ with a price target of $4.61.

GPT Group daily chart

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

Analyst recommendations: mean rating and price target

 

 

5Source: Refinitiv

 

  • Goodman Group (GMG)

Goodman Group accounts for almost 38% of the ASX 200 A-REIT index. It has been a market favourite for quite some time due to its industrial focus, and more recently for its data centre pipeline. It upgraded FY24 earnings per share growth guidance to 13% in May, but Citi analysts reckon it could beat this in the upcoming FY earnings season due to both inorganic and organic earnings drivers.

Citi has a ‘buy’ rating on the stock, with a price target of $32.50. In contrast, while Ord Minnett recently lifted its price target on the stock to $24.00, it says the upside is fully priced into the current share price. It predicts data centre projects will be more profitable than previously anticipated and will account for half of Goodman Group’s work-in-progress in the next few years, up from 40% currently.

Goodman Group daily chart

 

original-size.webpSource: IG

Analyst recommendations: mean rating and price target

 

 

6Source: Refinitiv

 
 
 

 

 

 

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Australia Pty Ltd. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients.

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