Sonae Sierra records net profit of €11.8 million in the first quarter of 2014

Sonae Sierra, the international shopping centre specialist, recorded a Net Profit of €11.8 million in the first three months of the year.

In the same period, the Direct profit was €11.7 million, which represents a 22% decrease compared to the same period of the previous year, and EBITDA was €25.6 million, which represents an 11% decrease compared to the same period of 2013.


The Direct profit was impacted by three main variables. First, it was impacted by the sales of properties that took place in 2013, namely Parque Principado, in Spain, and Valecenter and Airone, in Italy, as per the Company's capital recycling strategy. This factor explains 45% of the reduction in the Direct profit. Secondly, there was the impact of the devaluation of the Brazilian Real, in average terms, between 1Q14 and 1Q13. This effect explains 21% of the total reduction in Direct profit. The remaining reduction (34%) is explained by additional costs incurred by the Company in preparation for the entry in new markets.


During the period under analysis, the recovery of the European portfolio registered in the second semester of 2013 continued, as shown by the increased tenant sales, while the portfolio in Brazil kept growing in good rhythm.


Tenant sales in the European portfolio recorded a 0.5% increase, with emphasis on the growth of 2.7% in Portugal and in Italy, compared to the same period of 2013 and despite the fact that the positive Easter effect will only be reflected in April sales. In Brazil we continue to record a positive performance, with a 7.7% (BRL) climb in tenant sales, compared to the same period of 2013.


The Global Occupancy Rate of the portfolio was 94.6%, a 0.7% decrease compared to the same period of 2013, due to the quality of the Company's assets and management, in a context where occupancy rates and sales in the retail real estate market in Europe are still suffering the impact of the current economic situation.


According to Sonae Sierra's CEO, Fernando Guedes de Oliveira, "the first quarter of 2014 reinforced the recovery trend in the operational performance of our European portfolio. I would also like to highlight, in the same period, the refinancing of the debt of three assets in Portugal, in a total of €156 million and the growth of our third party service provision activity, with new contracts signed in two different geographies."


Debt refinancing


In another highlight of the quarter, Sonae Sierra was able to refinance the debt of three shopping centres in a total value of €156 million, which reflects the trust of national and international banks in the management and solidity of the Company and its assets.


In the scope of the operation, NorteShopping obtained a €135 million refinancing, while Centro Comercial Continente de Portimão was refinanced in €12 million and AlbufeiraShopping in €9 million. BES, BPI, Santander Totta, BIC, Banco Popular Portugal and Banco Popular Español were the banks involved in these refinancing operations.


New projects, asset acquisition, service provision and international expansion


In the first three months of this year, Sonae Sierra began the construction of two new projects. Located in Bucharest, Romania, ParkLake represents an investment of €180 million, and is scheduled to be inaugurated in 2016. The shopping centre will have a diversified and quality commercial offer in 70,000 m2 of Gross Lettable Area (GLA) with about 200 shops and 2,600 indoor parking spaces. In São Paulo, Brazil, the expansion and refurbishment of Franca Shopping began, and is scheduled to be completed in late 2014. This expansion, which represents a €31 million investment, will add to the centre around 11,000 m2 of GLA and 68 new shops, for a total of 30,000 m2 of GLA.


Also in the first quarter of 2014, Sonae Sierra signed three new management and leasing contracts for assets in Morocco and Italy. In Morocco, Sonae Sierra will manage and lease shopping centres Carré Eden, in Marrakech, and Arribat Center, in Rabat. In Italy, the Company will assure the leasing of the new shopping centre La Perle, in Faenza.


In, Portugal, the Sierra Portugal Fund (SPF) has reached an agreement with GREP II, a fund managed by Grosvenor Fund Management, for the acquisition of its 50% stake in AlbufeiraShopping and Centro Comercial Continente de Portimão, and now owns both assets in their entirety.


Already in April, outside the scope of the first quarter results, Sonae Sierra entered into a joint venture with CITIC Capital, China's leading investment management company, for the provision of management and leasing services to shopping centres in China. Headquartered in Shanghai, the newly-founded company brings together a multidisciplinary team of local talent and expats specialized in marketing, leasing and management of shopping centres. The team is prepared to provide services to shopping centres in the portfolio of CITIC Capital or in the funds managed by the company.


Net Asset Value (NAV) and Financial Ratios


Sonae Sierra calculates its NAV according to the guidelines published in 2007 by the INREV (European Association for Investors in Non-Listed Real Estate Vehicles).


Based on this methodology, as of March 31st of this year, Sonae Sierra's NAV reached €1.029 billion. This value represents a 2.9% increase compared to the value in December 2013. This increase was a consequence, fundamentally, of the Net Profit of the period and the favourable rate variation of the Brazilian Real (between 31st December 2013 and 31st March 2014).