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PSP Swiss Property – Operating earnings in line with expectations. FY 2015 forecast confirmed.

PSP Swiss Property – Operating earnings in line with expectations. FY 2015 forecast confirmed.

In line with the publication made early March 2015, an Ebitda excluding changes in fair value of approximately CHF 225 million is expected for FY 2015. This is about 5.5% below last year’s Ebitda of CHF 238.2 million. The decrease is mainly caused by less income from apartment sales and no likely income stemming from VAT recovery. Due to the accumulation of above mentioned earning components in Q1 2014, on a quarter-to-quarter basis operating income excluding changes in fair value decreased in percentage points even more by 12.9% (from CHF 43.8 million to CHF 38.2 million). At the end of March 2015, NAV per share amounted to CHF 84.13 (end of 2014: CHF 83.74). On 9 April 2015, CHF 3.25 per share were paid out of the capital contribution reserves.

Real estate portfolio
At the end of March 2015, the real estate portfolio included 161 office and commercial properties. In addition, there were five development sites and five individual projects. The carrying value of the total portfolio stood at CHF 6.636 billion (end of 2014: CHF 6.608 billion). In Q1 2015, no investment properties were purchased nor sold.
The project “Löwenstrasse 16” in Zurich was successfully completed. The new construction offers a mixed use for offices and retail areas as well as one apartment. Work began on the latest building project, “Hardturmstrasse 161 / Förrlibuckstrasse 150” in Zurich. This property will undergo a comprehensive renovation and will be brought up to date with regard to the technical installations by the end of 2016. The rooms will be designed in such a way that various flexible office sizes and layouts will be possible, depending on the tenants’ individual requirements. To further increase the building’s appeal, it will get an exterior facelift and a high-quality interior finishing. The planned investment total will be approximately CHF 30 million.

The new developments and conversions on the other sites progress as planned.

Vacancy rate
At the end of March 2015, the vacancy rate stood at 10.7% (end of 2014: 10.0%); this figure included the property on Hardturmstrasse 161/Förrlibuckstrasse 150 in Zurich, which was reclassified as “development property” at the end of March 2015. Excluding this property, the vacancy rate with regard to the relevant investment portfolio was 9.7%.

1.4 percentage points of these 9.7% were due to ongoing renovation work on various properties. The properties in Zurich West and Wallisellen (carrying value CHF 0.6 billion) contributed 2.7 percentage points to the overall vacancy rate. The remaining properties with a carrying value of CHF 5.4 billion (i.e. the total investment portfolio excluding the objects under renovation as well as those in Zurich West and Wallisellen) made up 5.6 percentage points.

Quarterly results Q1 2015
In Q1 2015, net income excluding changes in fair value reached CHF 38.2 million (Q1 2014: CHF 43.8 million). This result is in line with expectations. The reasons for this decline were lower rental income due to ongoing renovations, which decreased by CHF 1.7 million, and lower income from the sale of freehold apartments, which fell by CHF 2.9 million (during the reporting period, no apartments were sold; during the previous year’s period, 55 freehold apartments and one studio on the Gurten site in Wabern near Bern were transferred to their buyers). Furthermore, there was no income from VAT recovery in Q1 2015 (Q1 2014: CHF 1.8 million). Corresponding earnings per share amounted to CHF 0.83 (Q1 2014: CHF 0.96). For PSP Swiss Property, net income excluding changes in fair value is the basis for the distribution to shareholders.

In Q1 2015, there were no revaluations and no sales of investment properties. As a result, net income including changes in fair value was also CHF 38.2 million (Q1 2014: CHF 43.8 million). Earnings per share including changes in fair value amounted to CHF 0.83 (Q1 2014: CHF 0.96).

Strong capital structure
With total equity of CHF 3.859 billion (end of 2014: CHF 3.841 billion) – corresponding to an equity ratio of 57.5% (end of 2014: 57.5%) – PSP Swiss Property had a strong capital base at the end of March 2015. Interest-bearing debt amounted to CHF 1.919 billion, corresponding to 28.6% of total assets (end of 2014: CHF 1.929 billion respectively 28.9%). Currently, unused committed credit lines amount to CHF 560 million. No major committed bank loans will be due until 2019.

At the end of March 2015, the passing average interest rate was 1.71% (end of 2014: 1.70%). The average fixed-interest period was 4.1 years (end of 2014: 3.9 years).

Mid-January 2015, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) introduced negative interest rates to counter an excessive over-valuation of the Swiss franc. For borrowers (including PSP Swiss Property), who hedge their interest rate exposure with interest rate swaps, this entails additional interest charges. In particular, PSP Swiss Property (as a fixed payer) paid as well the negative variable interest rate to the swap counterparties. On the other hand, several lending banks have not yet acknowledged the negative basis for the interest calculation. The corresponding additional interest charge from the negative CHF-Libor of CHF 1.2 million for Q1 2015 was neutralised by activating a “receivable from negative Libor”. For FY 2015 as a whole, this amount might increase to approximately CHF 8 million. At the moment, the legal situation is being discussed with the concerned counterparties.
In April 2015, the rating agency Fitch confirmed PSP Swiss Property Ltd’s rating with an “A-” and stable outlook.

Subsequent events
Based on a resolution of the annual General Meeting on 1 April 2015, a cash payment of CHF 3.25 per outstanding share (totalling CHF 149.1 million) was made out of the capital contribution reserves on 9 April 2015.
There were no further material subsequent events.

Market environment
In the office market, supply currently exceeds demand in certain areas with an oversupply, particularly in peripheral regions. However, modern office buildings in central locations with good transportation links remain in demand. In the main economic centres Zurich and Geneva, the additional supply in commercial space delivered during the recent years might dampen rental prices for some time to come.
Overall, the market for retail space in central locations (“high street retail”) is robust. Rents remained more or less unchanged at high levels. While this market segment remains demanding, there is no weakening of the terms.

Outlook 2015
PSP Swiss Property remains confident about the future: the Company is well established in the Swiss real estate market with a strong capital base and a high-quality property portfolio. The Company sticks to its long-term, value-oriented and judicious acquisition strategy and conservative financing policy.

Focus will be kept on renovation of selected properties as well as on the development of the sites and projects.

For FY 2015, an Ebitda (excluding changes in fair value) of approximately CHF 225 million (2014: CHF 238.2 million) is still expected. The decrease compared to 2014 is mostly due to lower income from the sale of apartments as well as no income stemming from VAT recovery. Rental income is likely to remain stable over the whole year, despite an increase in renovations.
With regard to the vacancies, a rate of around 10% is still expected at the end of 2015 (end of March 2015: 9.7%).


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