In this issue
Performance – Property stocks tumbled in February as fears over the spread of Covid-19 spooked financial markets around the world and resulted in the largest sell-off since the 2008 financial crisis. There were just four UK-listed property companies that saw their share prices rise in February, however Daejan Holdings’ 53.5% jump was purely due to the fact it agreed a deal with its majority shareholder to take the company private. Small-cap regional office owner Circle Property led the pack, Daejan aside, with a share price rise of 3.9%. Alpha Real Trust, which invests in high-yielding property and asset-back debt, and private rented residential owner and developer Grainger were the other two property companies that saw share price gains in February, by 0.5% and 0.1% respectively. While the sell-off has been indiscriminate, companies focused on the retail market took a bigger hit than most. Fears that people would avoid public places, such as shopping centres, during the coronavirus pandemic was perhaps behind some of the falls. Shopping centre owners Intu Properties and Capital & Regional were among the bigger share price loses.
Valuation moves – Industrial giant SEGRO reported the biggest NAV move in February, with a 8.9% jump in NAV in the full year to the end of December 2019. Other companies to have also fared well were student accommodation group Unite, London office developer Derwent London and industrial and residential developer St Modwen Properties. Again, retail-focused companies were at the other end of the scale with Hammerson and Capital & Counties seeing double digit percentage falls in NAV in full year results.
Corporate activity – A number of companies raised money during February, the biggest being private rented residential specialist Grainger, which raised £186.7m. Urban Logistics REIT also raised £130m, while Warehouse REIT and Regional REIT both said they were weighing up an equity raise. Meanwhile, AEW UK Long Lease REIT changed its name to Alternative Income REIT after replacing its investment adviser.
Major news stories – Estate agent groups Countrywide and LSL Property Services are in talks over a possible all-share merger that would bring together two of the UK’s biggest listed estate agents. Elsewhere, flexible office space provider Workspace Group hired a new chief financial officer from Whitbread.