The washout across financial markets has left many, many buying opportunities for eagle-eyed investors. In recent days, I’ve talked about some big yielders from the FTSE 100 that merit serious attention at current prices.
British Land (LSE: BLND) is another Footsie share that’s collapsed to significant lows in recent sessions. To its cheapest for almost a decade, in fact. And this leaves the retail property owner looking quite tantalising, at first glance. As well as sporting a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 13.4 times, it carries a monster 7.2% dividend yield too.
It’s not a share that I’m prepared to buy for my own shares portfolio however. British Land’s profits have continued to decline as Brexit-related uncertainty hammers consumer confidence. The firm has enough on its plate — its net debt pile is marching toward an eye-watering £4bn — without the escalating coronavirus crisis giving its shareholders even more to worry about.
A report last week from Retail Economics shows 45% of retailers have already seen their sales fall since the outbreak of the virus. Three-quarters of respondents said they expect volumes to drop should the crisis persist as well.
Latest news on infection rates actually show things are in fact getting worse. Government figures reveal that the number of confirmed cases rose by 83 in the latest 24-hour period. This is the largest daily rise since the outbreak began and takes the total up to 456.
The Covid-19 saga is having a particularly bad effect upon brick & mortar retailers too, as you’d expect. With more and more people staying at home as a precautionary measure, shoppers are putting their money into the purses of the online operators instead.
More bad data
The latest retail report from Springboard though, shows how badly physical retailers having been struggling, even before the mass panic surrounding the coronavirus set in. This showed footfall dropped 7.8% in February, owing also to the impact of Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara.
Not even the stores in British Land’s covered malls are likely to have been immune from the impact of the bad weather. According to Springboard, visitor numbers across the UK’s shopping centres also dropped 2.5% last month.
So British Land is cheap, with its prospective P/E multiple sitting some way below historical averages. REITs like this have, in recent times, commanded readings above 20 times. But is its share price low enough? I would suggest not.
The Footsie firm’s facing significant near-term headwinds, ones which threaten to keep it buried even in debt. And the steady creep of internet shopping threatens its profits outlook over a longer time period.
I would consider a P/E ratio in or around the bargain benchmark of 10 times to be a fairer reflection of its many problems. As a result, I wouldn’t touch British Land with a bargepole today.
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Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended British Land Co. 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.