Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), the operator of 72 shopping centers across 12 countries, has announced that it is experiencing a robust rebound in its business. The company states that vacancy levels, earnings, and rent collection have all returned to pre-COVID levels, leading to the resumption of payouts to investors.
URW reported a 6.7% increase in its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) on a comparable basis, amounting to €2.19 billion. This growth can be attributed to a commendable 6.1% rise in net rental income on a comparable basis.
Furthermore, the company is optimistic about the future and forecasts adjusted recurring earnings per share ranging from €9.65 to €9.80 in 2024. In 2023, URW achieved €9.62 per share, surpassing the consensus of €9.57 compiled by Visible Alpha.
Dividends and Share Performance
After a hiatus caused by the pandemic, URW plans to resume dividends by offering a payment of €2.50 per share, signaling a positive outlook for its shareholders. This positive news has also translated to an increase in Unibail shares, with a 6% surge reaching a new 52-week high.
Strong Tenant Sales Recovery
Tenant sales have not only recovered but have surpassed 2019 levels, with an impressive growth rate of 9.2%. This growth is predominantly fueled by strong performance in the experiential sectors, which saw a remarkable 26.7% increase in entertainment sales, along with notable growth of 13.5% in food and beverage, 13.4% in fitness, and 8.9% in health and beauty sectors. Fashion sales witnessed a modest increase of 0.2%, while luxury sales experienced a decline of 6.5%.
Robust Rent Collection
URW has been successful in maintaining a high rent collection rate, with rates of 98% in both the U.S. and the U.K., and 97% in Continental Europe. This accomplishment further reinforces the stability and resilience of the company's operations.
URW is actively engaged in discussions for the sale of €1 billion worth of assets in Europe and the U.S., as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce its net debt, which currently stands at €20 billion.
In conclusion, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has made a strong recovery, with outstanding financial performance, impressive tenant sales growth, and solid rent collection rates. The company's focus on reducing debt and exploring new opportunities ensures a promising future for both investors and customers alike.