Property is one of the most defensive assets around. But for most investors, building an extensive, diversified property portfolio isn’t a realistic prospect. And even if you have the time and funds to do so, managing property can be an expensive and time-consuming business. And that’s where real estate investment trusts come in handy.
These property-focused businesses give investors access to a broad array of managed properties at the click of a button, no matter how much you have to invest, and no matter how much experience you have in the market.
Unloved by the market
Both trade at a deep discount to their net asset value, or the value of the property on their books. Investor concern about the impact Brexit will have on the UK property market is almost entirely responsible for this discount. Indeed, between the beginning and end of June 2016 (the month of the EU referendum), shares in these companies lost 18% and 11%, respectively.
The thing is, even though the shares registered a double-digit decline in the space of a month, the property underpinning these two companies’ valuations has hardly budged in value. For example, at the end of fiscal 2017, British Land’s net asset value per share was 915p, down slightly from 919p in 2016.
Thus, I believe that these two companies offer fantastic value at current prices with British Land currently trading at a 30% discount to net asset value, while Land Securities is trading at a discount of around 34%.
That said, I do believe Brexit may have some impact on these companies’ property assets, so I’m not expecting either to trade at its full and net asset value anytime soon.
Nonetheless, the current valuation implies property values are set to fall by 30% from current levels, which I believe is highly unlikely, even in the adverse scenario.
According to several reports, the demand for offices in and around London remains robust with some market analysts noting “unprecedented” levels of demand from tenants. Some reports have even pointed to “supply pressures” in the market for office space over 50,000 square feet. According to the Times, since Brexit, the equivalent of “four Cheesegraters – or 2.4m sq ft – have been leased by the financial services sector in central London.”
These figures indicate to me that the current discounts being attributed to British Land and Land Securities are too harsh. Therefore, I believe they could be some of the best value investments in the FTSE 100 today.
Not only are they trading at a discount to the value of the property on their balance sheets, but they also support market-beating dividend yields, so investors will be paid to wait for any turnaround. Shares in British Land currently support a dividend yield of 4.8% and shares in Land Securities offer a dividend yield of 4.6%.
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Rupert Hargreaves owns shares in British Land Co and Land Securities Group. The Motley Fool UK has recommended British Land Co and Land Securities Group. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.