* Unibail 2013 EPS grows 6.5 pct, above target
* Unibail to propose 2013 8.9 euros dividend
* Says positive on 2014 rental growth
PARIS, Feb 4 Unibail Rodamco, Europe's
biggest property group, said on Tuesday its 2013 rental income
rose 2.7 percent to 1.35 billion euros as stronger revenues from
well-positioned shopping malls helped exceed profit targets
despite the region's weak economic recovery.
The company's commercial property portfolio is mostly made
up of large European shopping centres, with a focus on huge
urban malls that are seen less vulnerable to consumer
belt-tightening. Unibail's net profit increased 11.2 percent to
986 million euros.
Unibail, whose portfolio includes a mall under the Louvre
Museum in Paris and the Arkadia in Warsaw, has concentrated on
high-traffic areas and relatively upscale tenants like Apple
and clothing brands Uniqlo and Zara.
"It was a very tough economic year, but the results have
been resilient, Jaap Tonckens, Chief Financial Officer, said in
a phone call with journalists.
Unibail's 2013 recurring earnings per share rose 6.5 percent
to 10.22 euros, higher than its guidance of at least 5 percent,
helped by strong leasing performance and a record-low cost of
Unibail expects recurring EPS to grow by at least 5.5
percent in 2014 and between 5 to 7 percent in the next five
years. Unibail will also recommend 2013 dividend at 8.9 euros
($12.03) per share, up 6 percent from the previous year.
"For 2014, the group is positive about its expectations on
rental income growth," the statement said.
"This is driven by on-going strong fundamentals, such as low
vacancy, sustainable occupancy cost ratios and good rental
Weak economic growth weighed on tenant revenues, which grew
1.1 percent, while higher rents on renewals and relettings
helped rental income for shopping malls rise 4.7 percent
like-for-like to 1.1 billion euros ($1.49 billion).
Stronger performance in the shopping malls helped offset a
decline in the offices market, where rents have been under
pressure, and in the exhibitions business.
Investors wondered if Unibail follows the specialisation
strategy of its peers, such as Klepierre, which
focuses on shopping malls and selling off offices, or Simon
Property Group, which plans to spin off smaller malls.
"We are comfortable where we are, however, we do have a
significant interest in continuing to focus on the large
shopping centers," Christophe Cuvillier, Chief Executive Officer
He added that Unibail has already sold non-core assets worth
5.6 billion euros since the merger in 2007. Shopping malls with
more than 6 million visitors per year now make up for 90 percent
of the retail portfolio.