The Unite Group plc, the UK's leading manager and developer of student accommodation, announces its half year results for the six months to 30 June 2018.

Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, commented:

“The first half of 2018 has been another active and successful period for Unite. We have delivered further increases in our sustainable and recurring earnings and maintained strong cash flows. The focus on our operating platform, property portfolio and University partnerships, supported by attractive market dynamics, continues to drive growth. We have expanded our University Partnership activity and further aligned our portfolio to the strongest Universities where student demand is at its highest. We are opening seven new properties over the summer and will be operating 52,000 beds for the 2018/19 academic year.

“As the UK’s largest provider of this type of accommodation, we have unparalleled insights into the needs of today’s students which allows us to constantly enhance the service we provide. Our continued focus on excellent customer service for both students and Universities supports reservations of a record number of beds, with 91% of beds already reserved for the 2018/19 academic year and like-for-like rental growth expected to be within our target of 3.0-3.5%.

“Looking ahead, our market leading brand, scalable operating platform and deep development pipeline leave us on track to deliver expected earnings and dividend growth for the full year.”

  Six months to 30 June 2018 Six months to 30 June 2017 Year to 31 December 2017 Change
EPRA earnings* £52.9m £40.4m £70.5m 31%
EPRA earnings per share* 20.7p 18.0p 30.3p 15%
Profit before tax £142.5m £83.9m 229.4m 70%
Dividend per share 9.5p 7.3p 22.7p 30%
Total accounting return* 7.8% 5.0% 14.0%  

 

As at 30 June 2018 30 June 2017 31 December 2017 Change from 31 December 2017
EPRA NAV per share* 761p 669p 720p 6%
Net debt* £770m £696m £803m 4%
Loan to value* 27% 30% 31%  

 

HIGHLIGHTS

EPRA Earnings up 31% to £52.9m (30 June 2017: £40.4 million) and dividend up 30% to 9.5p (30 June 2017: 7.3p)

  • Increased dividend, up 30% to 9.5p, driven by growing earnings and higher pay out
  • Profit before tax up 70% to £142.5 million (30 June 2017: £83.9 million)
    High-quality income, portfolio and University relationships support rental growth
  • Reservations for 2018/19 academic year at 91% (2017: 91%)
  • Supports rental growth outlook for 2018/19 of 3.0-3.5%
  • Nomination agreements with Universities represent 60% of accommodation (2017: 59%), with an average remaining life of six years (2017: six years) providing income and rental growth certainty on over half of revenue
    Over 9,000 beds in secured pipeline across development, University partnerships and forward funds, driving future earnings growth
  • Acquisition of 678-bed forward funded development in Wembley for £102 million for delivery in 2020. The acquisition is expected to deliver a yield on cost of over 6% and be valued at a net initial yield of 4.5%
  • Two new off-campus University Partnership schemes in Oxford and London secured, delivering c.1,900 beds with target openings of 2019 and 2021 respectively
  • Development pipeline of 6,500 beds for delivery over the next three years (2017: 7,550 beds), generating 7.7% yield on cost
  • On track to open 3,075 beds across seven new buildings for the 2018/19 academic year. All schemes are on time and on budget with reservations in line with the broader portfolio
  • Growing number of opportunities in London being evaluated
    High-quality portfolio aligned to the strongest Universities where intake continues to grow
  • 52,000 operational beds for 2018/19 academic year, with a value of £5.0 billion; Unite share £2.7 billion (30 June 2017: 49,600 beds, valued at £4.6 billion; Unite share £2.3 billion)
  • 85% of Unite’s portfolio now located at high and mid-ranked Universities (30 June 2017: 82%), increasing to 90% on completion of our development and University partnership pipeline and planned acquisitions and disposals
    Strong financial position
  • LTV of 27% (31 December 2017: 30%), cost of debt at 4.1% (31 December 2017: 4.1%)
  • Unite Group plc assigned an investment grade corporate rating of BBB from Standard & Poor's and Baa2 from Moody's

* The financial statements are prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). These financial highlights are based on the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) best practice recommendations and these performance measures are published as they are intended to help users in the comparability of these results across other listed real estate companies in Europe. The metrics are also used internally to measure and manage the business and to align to the performance related conditions for Directors’ remuneration. See glossary for definitions.

PRESENTATION

There will be a presentation for analysts this morning at 09:30 at Numis Securities Limited, The London Stock Exchange Building, 10 Paternoster Square, London EC4M 7LT. A live webcast will be available at: www.unite-group.co.uk. To register for the event or to receive dial-in details, please contact unite@powerscourt-group.com.

 

For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Richard Smith / Joe Lister / Paul Richmond                                    

Tel: +44 117 302 7005

Powerscourt

Justin Griffiths / Mazar Masud / Victoria Heslop                             

Tel: +44 20 7250 1446

 

Read the full statement here

View the presentation here