Dr. Wolfgang Zürcher, Chairman
Letter to our shareholders
Roland Friederich, CFO
Ladies and Gentlemen
The first half of the 2020/21 financial year continued to be successful for Züblin Immobilien Holding AG (Züblin). Profit as of 30 September 2020 amounted to CHF 2.0 million. EBIT before changes in market value increased by CHF 0.3 million (11%) to CHF 3.0 million as compared to the first half of 2019/20. The balance sheet value of the six investment properties increased slightly by CHF 0.1 million to CHF 218.0 million in the reporting period. The assessable impact of the lockdown of 19 March 2020 on both the affected tenant segments as well as the rental income proved to be realistic and showed minor impact on the performance of the property portfolio. Züblin is continuing its efforts to expand its well-positioned, profitable portfolio with a good tenant structure by means of attractive property acquisitions.
In the reporting period, a profit before changes in market value of the investment properties of CHF 2.1 million was generated. This represents an increase of CHF 0.6 million (40%) as compared to the same period of the previous year (CHF 1.5 million). This positive development is related to the cost initiative implemented in 2019. Personnel expenses were reduced by CHF 0.3 million (28%) and administrative expenses lowered by another CHF 0.1 million (18%).
Net operating income of CHF 4.3 million remained at the previous yearʼs level.
Changes in market value after investments in the reporting period amounted to -CHF 0.1 million.
Overall, net income decreased from CHF 4.4 million in the previous year period to CHF 2.0 million in the current half-year. Earnings per share for the first six months of the 2020/21 financial year amount to CHF 0.60.
Stable Real Estate Portfolio
Züblin’s portfolio comprised of six investment properties as of 30 September 2020. The total value of the portfolio was stable at CHF 218.0 million (31 March 2020: CHF 217.9 million).
The good quality and tenant structure of the portfolio proved to be robust during the pandemic and resulted in little exposure in the sectors affected by the lockdown, namely gastronomy, retail and leisure/sports. Agreements for rent waivers of around KCHF 48 have been made with the tenants affected. This corresponds to 0.5% of the annualized rental income.
The crisis-related uncertainties in the transaction market are reflected in the valuations and take into account the discounts included in non-core locations outside the city of Zurich since March 2020. The market values of CHF 220.3 million as of 30 September 2019, could not be recovered. This mainly concerns the locations in Berne, Baden and Egg. These three locations account for 28% of the portfolio value.
The vacancy rate at the end of September 2020 was 8.8% (31 March 2020: 8.2%). Following a significant slowdown in the letting market in connection with COVID-19 and the lockdown, the letting of our available space has now resumed and is also showing demand. One full floor of the space that will become available in February 2021 in the Zurich Holbeinstrasse property has been successfully re-let.
The weighted average lease term (WALT) of the overall portfolio at the end of September 2020 was 3.4 years (31 March 2020: 3.8 years).
Good Position due to Secure Financial Base
As of 30 September 2020, the company had cash and cash equivalents of CHF 1.9 million. Five of the six investment properties are financed with a long-term revolving credit facility in the amount of CHF 118 million, of which only CHF 69 million has been drawn. The condominium share acquired in April 2019 was fully financed with own funds. This results in a loan-to-value ratio (LTV) of 32% of the total portfolio.
In addition, the Annual General Meeting approved authorized capital in the amount of CHF 37 million for further growth.
Unchanged Dividend for the 2019/20 Financial Year
The Annual General Meeting on 17 June 2020 approved a dividend of CHF 1.00 per registered share from capital reserves. This corresponds to a dividend yield of 3.6% based on the share price at 31 March 2020; dividend was paid on 23 June 2020.
Election to the Board of Directors
The shareholder group Ketom AG, Wiederkehr Associates AG and Dr. Hans-Rudolf and Ursina Schaerli, requested an Extraordinary General Meeting be convened to deal with the election of an additional Board member. According to their latest disclosure report dated 16 May 2020, the group represents Züblin shares of 10.21%.
At their Extraordinary Meeting on 21 October 2020, the shareholders approved the proposal supported by the Board of Directors. Mr. David Schaerli has proven expertise in the Swiss real estate market and thus ideally complements the new four-member Board of Directors.
It is hard to predict how the general economic uncertainties and in particular the market for office properties will develop in the future. In addition, it is assumed that the tense situation on the office space market will slowly improve. In Q2 and Q3 of 2020, the transaction market showed continued high investor demand for high-quality properties in central locations. Züblin’s portfolio is solidly positioned in this market environment. In implementing its growth strategy, the company will continue to focus on the careful analysis of investment opportunities available on the market. However, acquisitions will only be made if they lead to a permanent added value to the portfolio.
The emerging changes in the office environment and potential re-designs of workplace concepts open up new opportunities. Knowing the tenants demands and being able to react promptly to their changing needs requires close partnership: As of January 2021, Züblin returns to managing its properties with in-house professionals.
Dr. Wolfgang Zürcher
CEO / CFO