Property markets are constantly evolving – and so are the investment opportunities.
Based in some of the world’s most vibrant property markets, our team blends global analysis of the trends redefining the way we live and work, together with local perspectives of how this plays out for each stock. With a focus on capital preservation, we invest in well managed assets in high barrier to entry markets in many of the world’s bustling cities.
From office and residential property through to logistics, self storage and data centres, property securities give investors a liquid and diversified exposure to real property assets – and their return profile.
Why invest with us in global property securities?
Real estate security returns are driven by a combination of local real estate fundamentals and broader capital market conditions. Due to the fundamentally localised nature of real estate,asset class returns across different regions have historically been characterised by low levels of correlation, and by a lack of uniformity. This phenomenon can lead to pricing anomalies – presenting opportunities to generate excess returns by capital allocation, and regional or stock selection.
Our portfolio can provide access to property assets such as:
Central business district and suburban office buildings
Super-regional / regional / sub-regional and convenience shopping centres
Residential investment and development
Global team – local experts
We believe that having specialist property investors in each region is the most effective way to manage a global property securities portfolio.
As such, the team’s highly experienced regional specialists are based across the world’s major property markets to provide on-the-ground research and knowledge that allows them to assess the risks and opportunities in the asset class.
Under the leadership of Stephen Hayes, the global property securities team consists of seven portfolio managers and three analysts, all of whom are focused solely on investing in publicly traded realestate securities.
They have a full understanding of stock specific endogenous risks, of the wider real estate market and of the macroeconomic conditions that can influence returns.
Data centres - tapping internet growth via listed property
Investing in listed property stocks that own data centres - the specialist buildings which house the infrastructure required to power modern internet usage – gives investors access to one of the greatest structural shifts of our time.
Reliable data centres are expensive to build which means that the supply of new centres is well controlled. A turn-key data centre in the US can cost twice as much as an office tower to build.
This cost reflects the highly specified plant and equipment required for the data centre to have virtually no risk of down time in operations.
Data centres have a wide range of business models appealing to a diverse range of customers - from governments to telecommunication companies to vast internet-centric firms.
With the industry thematic of a high rate of adoption of the internet, together with the large growth in cloud computing, data centres with the right business model can deliver high cash flows well into the future.
Data Centres - Total Operational Floorspace
Source: 451 Research and Digital Realty
Build to rent boom
With accelerating tenant demand now an established long-term trend, the supply of purpose-built rental accommodation has failed to keep up with vacancy rates that are very low in most global cities*.
Strong house price inflation has affected housing affordability. Purpose-built, professionally owned and managed residential rental properties are emerging, with luxury amenities like gyms, community facilities, parcel delivery and even child care being included.
Within the ‘residential for rent’ asset class, cash flows have proved stable through economic cycles, with occupancy levels typically remaining high through periods of economic slowdowns. Rents are correlated to employment and wages growth, demographic trends and supply levels. From an institutional investment perspective, we believe the returns have been competitive.
* The vacancy rates for residential real estate is x% in London, y% in Paris and z%in New York. House price inflation in these regions has been x%, y% and z%respectively over the past 3 years. Source: government data as at March, 2020.
U.S. Household Formation vs Total Housing Completions
Source: US Census Bureau
An eye on investment opportunities in student accommodation
While most sectors suffer in times of high unemployment, history has shown us the education sector attracts increasing enrolments as consumers look to bolster their employability. For property investors, this recession-proof demand combined with strong growth in student numbers makes student accommodation a defensive diversification play against the broader equity market. There were over 5.3 million international students in 2017, reflecting an uplift of more than 150% since 2000 (UNESCO 2019).
75% of the top 20 most highly rated universities are located in the United States and the United Kingdom (Source: QS 2020 World University Rankings). Unsurprisingly, demand for places is strongest at these highly rated institutions. Student accommodation in the United States and the United Kingdom remains a drawcard for international students.
Closing out strong gains for our portfolios, we have recently exited from our exposures to this sector. We are currently watching short term headwinds related to the COVID 19 pandemic, while evaluating the longer term implications of the potential shift towards remote learning by universities before considering re-establishing a position.
Disclaimer: Reference to specific securities (if any) is included for the purpose of illustration only and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell the same. All securities mentioned herein may or may not form part of the holdings of First Sentier Investors’ portfolios at a certain point in time, and the holdings may change over time.
Our corporate RI strategy is based upon three strategic pillars of quality, stewardship and engagement.
We have implemented sustainability considerations into our investment process. We believe the consideration of ESG issues will lead to better risk/return outcomes, which will ultimately improve long-term returns for investors.
Corporate governance is a particular focus, where board independence as well as respect for shareholder rights is of paramount importance. We also consider any specific sustainability initiatives implemented by a company and the environmental impact of existing assets and developments. A company's history as a good corporate citizen is taken into account, as well as evidence of meaningful contributions it might have made to benefit society more broadly.