HALF YEAR RESULTS FOR THE SIX MONTHS TO 30 JUNE 2021

Richard Smith, Chief Executive of Unite Students, commented:

“The business has once again shown its resilience in the first half and is now positioned for growth. Recognising the challenges faced by students, we have provided financial support during the pandemic totalling over £100 million.

 

We are confident that record University applications for 2021/22 will translate into strong demand for our accommodation. Our recent sales performance has been strong, supported by the removal of restrictions on in-person teaching. While there remains some uncertainty over travel restrictions for international students, we have minimal exposure to students due to arrive from red list countries and have offered students arriving from amber list countries, including China, the opportunity to arrive at their accommodation up to three weeks early to self-isolate at no extra cost. Assuming no fundamental change to travel restrictions, we are well positioned and anticipate 95-98% occupancy and 2-3% rental growth in 2021/22.

 

Despite the backdrop of Covid-19, and uncertainty created by the anticipated review of Higher Education funding, we remain confident in our ability to deliver significant earnings growth and attractive total returns over the medium to long term.”

 

H1 2021

H1 2020

FY2020

Change

EPRA earnings1,2

£88.3m

£74.8m

£97.3m

18%

EPRA earnings per share1,2

22.2p

20.5p

25.5p

8%

IFRS profit/(loss) before tax

£130.4m

£(73.9)m

£(120.1)m

n/m

IFRS basic EPS

32.7p

(20.4)p

(31.8)p

n/m

Dividend per share

6.5p

0.0p

12.75p

n/m

Total accounting return1

3.9%

(2.3)%

(3.4)%

 

EBIT margin1

69.5%

71.7%

62.1%

 

As at

30 Jun 2021

30 Jun 2020

31 Dec 2020

Change from

31 Dec 2020

EPRA NTA per share1

837p

828p

818p

2%

IFRS NAV per share

833p

822p

809p

3%

Net debt3

£1,501m

£1,688m

£1,742m

(14)%

Loan to value3

30%

33%

34%

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Resilient financial performance

  • EPRA earnings up 18% to £88.3 million (H1 2020: £74.8 million) and EPRA EPS up 8% to 22.2 pence (H1 2020: 20.5 pence) 2
  • EPRA profit includes £15.7 million (3.9 pence) from partial recognition of the LSAV performance fee
  • 96% rent collection for the 2020/21 academic year4
  • Guidance for EPRA EPS of 27-30 pence for FY2021 (2020: 25.5 pence), excluding the LSAV performance fee
  • Interim dividend of 6.5p (H1 2020: nil), targeting at least 65% payout of EPRA EPS, excluding the LSAV performance fee for FY2021
  • Profit before tax of £130.4 million (H1 2020: £73.9 million loss), driven by EPRA earnings and a valuation gain of £54.3 million in the period (H1 2020: £135.2 million loss)
  • Total accounting return of 3.9% for H1 (H1 2020: (2.3)%)

Further support for students during the pandemic

  • All properties remained open during the latest national lockdown
  • 10-week rental discount of 50% and four-week tenancy extension

Strong demand for the 2021/22 academic year

  • No restrictions on in-person teaching and learning in Universities from 16 August
  • 4% growth in UCAS applications compared to 2020/21, driven by record 18-year old participation rate
  • Reservations for 2021/22 academic year at 85% (2020/21: 82%, 2019/20: 91%)
  • Demand underpinned by nominated beds and direct-let sales to re-bookers
  • Targeting 95-98% occupancy for 2021/22 and rental growth of 2-3%
  • Up to three weeks of free accommodation for students from amber list countries required to self-isolate

Value creation through high-quality portfolio and growing pipeline

  • EPRA NTA of 837 pence, up 2% (31 December 2020: 818 pence)
  • 1.5% increase in property values in H1 on a like-for-like basis
  • Secured pipeline of £769 million and 5,048 beds, generating a 6.5% yield on cost
  • Exchanged contracts for a new c.1,000 bed development site in Stratford in London, subject to planning

Active balance sheet management to position for growth

  • LTV reduced through disposals to 30% at 30 June 20213 (31 December 2020: 34%), maintaining 35% target over the medium term
  • Provides firepower for significant pipeline of new development and University partnership opportunities
  • £261 million of disposals contracted in H1 (Unite share) at a blended yield of 4.9%
  • LSAV joint venture extended by 10 years to September 2032

1 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

2 Excludes integration and acquisition costs in relation to the acquisition of Liberty Living

3 Excludes IFRS 16 related balances recognised in respect of leased properties. See glossary for definitions

4 Excluding the impact of the 10-week rental discount in Q1 2021

 

Read the full statement here


View our half year figures at a glance 


PRESENTATION

The webcast can be accessed via this link. 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 / Michael Burt                                                         Tel: +44 117 302 7005

Unite press office                                                                                                 Tel: +44 117 450 6300

Powerscourt

Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop                                                                        Tel: +44 20 7250 1446