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KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian real estate investment trust (REITs) sector is expected to experience a gradual “U-shaped” recovery in the second half of 2022, backed by improving overall fundamentals and operating environment.
CGS-CIMB Research said the momentum in recovery in the second half of this year will be driven by positive impact from full economic reopening since the fourth quarter of last year, as well as a pick-up in domestic tourism activities, in tandem with the easing of international travel restrictions.
The research house said an improvement in retail activities and stronger consumer sentiment, improvement in hotel occupancy rates and return of traffic to offices and commercial spaces will also help spur the local REITs sector.
For the retail segment, CGS-CIMB Research said it expects diminishing risks of rental assistance.
“Although there could be selective rebates, as retail tenants have started to benefit from the surge in retail spending and sales in the fourth quarter of 2021, as well as the first half of 2022.
“In the first quarter of 2022, 100% of tenants across all retail malls were operating, compared to 10% to 15% during the peak of the lockdown periods in 2020.”
CGS-CIMB Research said it expects the retail segment to be spurred by the various festive holidays this year, adding however, that the situation could be mitigated by the negative impact of interest rate hikes and rising inflation rates on overall consumer spending.,
CGS-CIMB Research added it anticipates the hotels and office segments to still face challenges.
“For the hotel and hospitality space, although average occupancy rates trickled upwards to 50% to 55% at the end of 2021, further increases in occupancy rates may be capped by domestic tourism activities, as international tourist arrivals, which plunged sharply in 2020 and 2021, may take longer to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“Based on our checks, industry views point to hotel occupancy rates rising to 60% to 70% by the end of 2022.”
The research house said it is staying neutral on the local REITs sector and prefers companies with larger exposure to flagship retail malls (high occupancy rates), as well as dominant exposure to the industrial, warehousing and logistic assets with acquisition strategies in place.
“We also prefer high dividend yield stocks,” CGS-CIMB Research said.
Separately, MIDF Research said property loan applications surged in June.
“According to data released by Bank Negara, total loans applied for purchase of property jumped by 35.4% year-on-year and 15.8% month-on-month to RM46.5bil in June 2022.