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Charter Hall lifts earnings upgrade

Pacific Square shopping centre at Maroubra, owned by Charter Hall.Diversified developer and funds manager Charter Hall will focus on its development program but will stick to the three core areas of office, industrial and retail to underpin its increased earnings per security growth guidance of 8 to 10 per cent for the full 2016 year.
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After a management restructure the group is now run solely by chief executive David Harrison, who said the business was now run along sector lines.

Charter Hall’s business is focused on two key earnings streams; Property Investment income generated from investing alongside the group’s capital partners in property funds and partnerships and earnings generated from Property Funds Management.

For the half year to December 31, Charter Hall reported operating earnings of $61.2 million, up 26.3 per cent from the previous corresponding period. The statutory profit after tax was $143.5 million, a rise of  259.6 per cent on the same time last year and included $89 million of property valuation gains.

An interim dividend of 13.3c was declared and will be paid on February 26.

Mr Harrison said the strength in demand for office space across Melbourne and Sydney and demand for warehouses by retailers, will lead to rent rises and will “turbo charge” face rent rises.

Projects such as the Pacific Square shopping centre in Maroubra, Sydney, will be a focus as it allows the group to add value with a new tenancy mix and expansion where possible.

He said that given volatility across global equity markets, he expects quality property with secure cash flow to remain highly attractive to both institutional and retail investors.

“We will continue to focus on portfolio security by investing in assets with strong tenant covenants and long lease durations delivering sustainable income and capital growth for security holders,” Mr Harrison said.

The results were in line with market expectations.

UBS analysts said Charter Hall continues to deliver ahead of expectations on property income and assets under management growth.

Mr Harrison said the Property Funds Management business experienced growth, up $2.3 billion or 17 per cent $15.9 billion during the first half and was looking ahead to a solid year.

This growth was driven by activity in the industrial sector, with $710 million of first half acquisitions and positive valuation uplifts across all sectors. The group is also looking to sell some non core office and industrial assets.

Included in the business is the growing pub investments with Woolworths associate ALH, which now stands at about $100 million.

“We will continue to expand into the pub sector which we see as providing significant growth potential,” Mr Harrison said.

Charter Hall has also stepped into the car dealership sector with its auto alley fund. Mr Harrison said even if cars are made as driverless, “they will still be sold in a showroom”.

JP Morgan’s analysts said Charter Hall’s earnings outlook is robust due to its continued inflow into the asset class, margin expansion and growth in assets under management driving higher recurring income and a material increase in performance fees for 2016-17.

“Beyond this, we note the vast majority of Charter Hall’s are in-the-money for performance fees which provides an additional sources of earnings should asset values remain firm,” JP Morgan analysts said.

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