Property investment group Derwent London (LSE: DLN) reported a strong set of figures yesterday when it issued its latest business update for the third quarter of its financial year. The FTSE 250 firm said it had surpassed its previous record for lettings with 495,300 sq ft in the year to date, securing £28.3m per annum of rental income. Interestingly, £11.6m per annum, or 41% was secured after the end of June, with these latter deals achieving rents 2.8% higher than June 2016 estimated rental values (ERV).
Show me the dividends
The London-focused group also revealed that on average, lettings had been secured at 6.9% ahead of December 2015 ERV, with vacancy rates remaining low at just 3.3%. Meanwhile Derwent is continuing to make progress with its major development programme under construction, of which 400,000 sq ft is due for completion by the second half of next year, with 66% already pre-let. An additional 620,000 sq ft is due for completion in 2019, including the Brunel Building in Paddington, central London.
In the second half of the year Derwent sold three properties for a total consideration of £130.1m, and on average these have been in line with June 2016 book values. But the company has admitted that the EU referendum introduced considerable market uncertainty, and together with the rise in Stamp Duty Land Tax in March, and recent confirmation of the higher business rates from April 2017, it has had a negative impact.
Derwent London has been operating as a Real Estate Investment Trust since 2007, but despite shareholder payouts being increased every year, the dividends have failed to keep up with the soaring share price, resulting in disappointing yields for income seekers. Derwent’s shares have looked expensive for quite some time, and at the end of 2015 the company’s was trading at 52 times actual earnings.
The prospective yield looks far healthier at the moment following this year’s share price slump, but at just 2% is still well below what I would expect from a property investment firm. In my view, there are plenty of other property investment firms out there with more modest valuations and healthier yields.
Trading systems provider Fidessa Group (LSE: FDSA) is another mid-cap firm that has recently highlighted the uncertainty it faced as a result of the Brexit vote. However, the Woking-based software firm derives more than 60% of its revenue from outside Europe, and believes it remains well positioned to benefit from any continued weakness in sterling, providing further support for its strong cash generation and dividend policy.
The software group, which provides trading, investment and information solutions to the financial community, has seen little or no earnings growth over the last four years, and yet commands a premium valuation. And although market consensus suggests a return to growth this year, this will be no more than single-digits, and certainly not deserving of its high P/E rating of 28.
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Bilaal Mohamed has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Fidessa. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.