First development project
FEHT has announced its first JV with FEOC – development of an upscale/mid-tier hotel project in Sentosa. While viewed as a positive, the project’s end-FY18 slated completion is expected to have minimal impact to the
company’s DPU in the near term. As such, with the stock having corrected by c.6.0% recently, coupled with the long-term positive impact from this project, we upgrade FEHT to Hold from Reduce, with a slightly higher DDM-based (discount rate: 9.0%) TP of S$0.83.
Far East Hospitality Trust (FEHT) announced that it has entered into a joint venture (JV) agreement with Far East Organisation Centre Pte Ltd (FEOC) to develop a new S$443.8m hotel in Sentosa, Singapore. FEHT will contribute c.S$133.1m and hold a 30% stake in the JV. This project, with a 60-year leasehold, is an integrated development comprising two hotels: 1) ‘Outpost’ – 230 rooms targeting the upscale market, and 2) ‘Village’ – 620 rooms targeting the mid-tier segment. The project is targeted to be completed by end-FY18.
What We Think
Given that FEHT’s contribution to the proposed JV will be fully funded via debt (leverage ratio expected to rise to 34.4% post completion of the project), we view it positively as no equity dilution is expected consequently. In addition, this project is uniquely positioned to fill the mid-tier accommodation gap in Sentosa. Mid-tier rooms currently account for 8.1% (245 rooms) of total available hotel rooms in the vicinity. With an estimated average occupancy of c.80%+ in Sentosa and an average rate of low to mid S$200 per room/night for the mid-tier hotel rooms, we believe this is an underserved segment that FEHT can tap via the JV. Furthermore, by entering into the JV at this stage, FEHT is able to lock in lower cost of investment as compared to acquiring the development post-completion (development cost is c.38% lower than the average transacted price of hotels across Singapore). FEHT holds the ROFR to acquire the balance 70% stake of the hotel once the hotel stabilised.
What You Should Do
Given that this asset will only be completed at end-FY18, while the higher incurred interest payment, as highlighted by management, will be treated as non-capex expenditure, we project DPU to be minimally affected in the near term. With the recent correction to share price by c.6.0% and in view of its long-term prospect tapping an underserved market, we upgrade FEHT to a Hold with a slightly higher target price of S$0.83
Quantity lower, quality higher
Visitor arrival to Singapore was flat yoy in 1Q14. This was largely due to lower Chinese visitor arrivals in Feb and Mar, which we attribute to: 1) a new tourism law in China, and 2) the MH370 incident. Although the number of visitors from China has dwindled, we believe the average Chinese spending in Singapore has strengthened, benefitting the luxury and upscale hotels. We maintain our Add rating on OUE-HT (TP: S$0.96) and CDL-HT (TP: S$1.97), and our Reduce rating on FEHT (TP: S$0.80).
Recent data from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed that visitor arrivals to Singapore remained flat yoy in 1Q14. During this period, higher visitor arrival from South East Asia (+4.1% yoy), on the back of stronger arrivals from Indonesia (+5.5% yoy), was offset by weaker visitor arrivals from China (-14.0% yoy). On the other hand, it was noted that RevPAR for Singapore hotels during the first four months rose by 2.1% yoy, despite a 0.7% yoy drop in occupancy. The growth was attributed to the upscale and luxury hotel segments, where RevPAR expanded by 10.1% and 3.1% yoy, respectively, vs. -4.4% in the mid-tier and +0.2% in economy segments.
What We Think
The slowdown in visitor arrivals from China could mainly be attributed to 1) the new tourism law in China which took effect in Oct 2013, and to a lesser extent 2) the MH370 incident. During Feb 14 and Mar 14, Chinese visitor arrivals dropped by an average of 19.5% yoy. During this period, although fewer Chinese came on multi-country package tours, more are travelling here on their own – and this group of visitors tend to spend more. As highlighted by data released by STB earlier this year, total Chinese tourism receipt in 4Q13 grew by 1% despite visitor arrival from China dipping by 31% over the same period. During 2013, Chinese spending was also noted to reach c.S$3.0bn, exceeding the Indonesians (at S$2.3bn) for the first time since 2007. Furthermore, tourism shopping tax refund company Global Blue recently pointed out that Singapore remains the second most favoured shopping destination for the Chinese after Paris. This trend is expected to strengthen further as the government aims to position Singapore as a top luxury lifestyle destination through various partnerships with Chinese tourism providers. Besides the patronage from big Chinese spenders, the upscale and luxury hotel segments are expected to benefit from 1) stronger Indonesian visitor arrivals, 2) packed calendar of events in 2014, and 3) a potentially stronger corporate spending trend as the global economy continues to recover in 2014.
What You Should Do
With the luxury and upscale hotel segments’ RevPARs expected to be strong in 2H14, we maintain our Add rating on OUE-HT (TP: S$0.96) as the company has the ability to boost RevPAR through the sponsor-funded AEI of its Mandarin Orchard hotel. Similarly, we remain positive on CDL-HT (Add; TP: S$1.97) and expect continual good performance from its Singapore and Maldives portfolios. On the other hand, we are negative on FEHT (Reduce; TP: S$0.80) as we expect its portfolio of mid-tier hotels, particularly those located along Orchard Road, to come under pressure amid intensifying competition in the coming months.