- FFO I climbs by 10.7% to EUR 104.1 million year-on-year
- Vacancy rate drops significantly from 3.4% to 2.7% (l-f-l)
- Rent per square metre rises by 2.8%
- EPRA-NTA reaches EUR 124.03 per share, further portfolio value increases expected in H1
- Publication of an extensive sustainability agenda with clear and measurable targets for all environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects
- Climate neutrality targeted by 2045 with simultaneous commitment to affordable housing
- FFO I forecast for 2021 of EUR 410-420 million and ESG targets confirmed
LEG Immobilien SE made a successful start to the 2021 financial year. The key drivers of its positive earnings performance were acquisitions, structural organic rental growth, and a much-improved occupancy rate. The company is therefore able to absorb the negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic fully and anticipates positive business development for the year as a whole. With its good apartments in the medium to affordable price segment, LEG’s product offering enjoys structural and sustainable demand.
“On the basis of its stable business model, the successful integration of its 2020 acquisitions and the further crystallisation of its sustainability targets, LEG Immobilien SE made a very good start to 2021 both financially and strategically. Thanks to our excellent letting result, our homes are currently almost fully let. Affordable housing in the subsidised and free financed segments as offered by LEG remains in particularly high demand. In a still challenging environment, we are therefore well on track to achieve our financial and non-financial targets for 2021. I am particularly delighted with the finalisation of our sustainability strategy, on which basis we can more systematically meet our environmental, social and governance responsibilities,” says Lars von Lackum, CEO of LEG Immobilien SE.
Substantial growth in FFO I continues
Funds from operations (FFO I), the key performance indicator for the company, amounted to EUR 104.1 million in the first quarter of 2021, increasing by a substantial 10.7% year-on-year (Q1 2020: EUR 94.0 million). Significant positive effects resulted from increased net cold rent, the majority of which is due to acquisitions. An opposite effect came from the slight increase in maintenance expenses and the rise in staff costs, driven among other things by an increased headcount following the acquisitions outside of North Rhine-Westphalia and the acquisition of LWS Plus.
The EBITDA margin improved to 74.8% (Q1 2020: 74.1%). This ratio of EBITDA to net cold rent is the main indicator of the company’s efficiency. Overall, the results for the first quarter confirm the positive development in terms of efficiency.
In-place like-for-like rent rose by 2.8% as against the previous year to an average of EUR 6.03 per square metre in the reporting period. This means that LEG remains a leading provider of good housing at fair prices. The like-for-like vacancy rate fell significantly to 2.7% (Q1 2020: 3.4%).
Further increase in investment for climate protection and new construction
Total investment in the housing portfolio has increased significantly to EUR 9.44 per square metre (Q1 2020: EUR 8.12 per square metre). The majority of the investment relates to modernisation measures to improve energy efficiency. Despite COVID-19, the company reaffirms its continued commitment to climate protection and continues with its initiative to create the new housing that is urgently required.
LEG sustainability and decarbonisation agenda finalised
In the first quarter of 2021, LEG finalised its Sustainability Agenda 2024, which serves as a starting point for further development regarding environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects. At the end of 2020, the company had already incorporated specific ESG targets into the remuneration system for the Management Board and senior management.
The agenda’s environmental targets include a 10% CO2 reduction by 2024. Therefore, LEG is planning to invest up to EUR 500 million in energetic modernisation over the coming 4 years. The company assumes a baseline of 36.7 kg CO2e/sqm that will be reduced to 33 kg CO2e/sqm in 2024. For the first time, it recorded the initial data based on actual consumption, while the majority of the real estate sector is still using estimated values based on energy certificates. Following its CO2 reduction path, LEG plans to achieve climate neutrality by 2045. In addition to energetic modernisation, the shift in the energy mix towards green district heating and green electricity as well as a change in tenants’ consumption behaviour will have to contribute significantly. LEG’s own biomass power plant is another important element, which would lower LEG’s carbon footprint by 18%, if fully accounted for. It feeds green electricity into the general grid, corresponding to the annual energy requirement of around 45,000 LEG households.
LEG’s social targets are characterised by affordable housing and responsibility for customers and employees. From 2022, the company will therefore introduce a customer satisfaction index (CSI) and targets a level of at least 70% in 2025. With regard to employee satisfaction, LEG, alongside five other companies, was named recently one of the “Best Employers in NRW” with a ‘trust index’ of 66%. LEG aims to achieve at least the same result in 2024. LEG also continues to expand its charitable foundation work. The “Your Home Helps” foundation provides support exactly where it is needed. In 2020, the focus was on coronavirus aid projects. In 2021, it will focus on sustainable social work with its own social workers and experienced partners in the neighbourhoods.
As an indicator of good corporate governance, LEG is again seeking a strong ESG risk rating from Sustainalytics in 2021 (2020: 10.4). The certification of the LEG compliance management system is also to be confirmed by the Institute for Corporate Governance in the German Real Estate Industry. Moreover, a third of Supervisory Board members are to be female after the 2022 Annual General Meeting (none at present).
An initial overview of the LEG sustainability agenda can be found here.
On June 11, LEG will provide further details on its sustainability strategy with an extensive publication detailing the target system as well as challenges and opportunities.
NTA per share increases slightly
The company reports the net asset value of its properties through the NTA (net tangible asset value), replacing the NAV (net asset value) reported up to and including Q4 2020. Compared with NAV, the NTA does not include intangible assets and goodwill. In the first quarter of 2021, the NTA increased by 1.3% to EUR 124.03 per share (31 December 2020: EUR 122.43 per share).
The average value of the property portfolio (including acquisitions) as at 31 March 2021 was EUR 1,514/sqm (31 December 2020: EUR 1,503/sqm). This equates to a gross rental yield of the portfolio of 4.6%. Due to the positive operating performance and ongoing high demand for German residential property, a further increase of the NTA is expected in 2021. Subject to the further impact of the pandemic, LEG expects the percentage valuation uplift of the portfolio in H1 2021 to be at least in line with the same period of the previous year.
Strong balance sheet secures low risk profile – scope for further growth
Mid-March, LEG successfully issued an unsecured, fixed-interest corporate bond with a nominal value of EUR 500 million. The bond matures on 30 March 2033 and carries a coupon of 0.875% p.a. The placement, which was oversubscribed multiple times, resulted in further optimisation of LEG’s financing profile.
As at 31 March 2021, the average maturity of the company’s liabilities was 7.5 years (31 March 2020: 8.1 years). At 1.29%, average interest costs have decreased further from last year (31 March 2020: 1.46%). LEG does not have any material redemptions until 2023. LEG is therefore not dependant on short- and medium-term developments in the financial markets. This contributes to a high degree of security for stable medium-term earnings and dividend growth.
Net debt in relation to property assets (loan-to-value, LTV) was at a low 37.7% as at the end of the quarter. “This underscores our company’s low risk profile and shows that LEG has ample room to finance future growth,” says Susanne Schröter-Crossan, CFO of LEG Immobilien SE.
Successful conversion: LEG became a Societas Europaea (SE)
LEG Immobilien AG successfully completed its legal transformation into a Societas Europaea (SE) in mid-March – the company is now entered in the Düsseldorf commercial register as LEG Immobilien SE.
Earnings forecast for 2021 confirmed
Based on the business performance in the first three months of 2021, LEG believes – depending on the future development of the COVID-19 pandemic – to be in a comfortable position to reach its guidance and has therefore confirmed its FFO I outlook of EUR 410 million to EUR 420 million. Further possible portfolio acquisitions or disposals are not reflected in this guidance. The mid-point of this range corresponds to an FFO 1increase of around 8.3% vs. 2020 financial year.
Results of operations
Net rental and lease income
Net profit or loss for the period
FFO I per share
FFO II per share
AFFO per share
Number residential units
In-place rent (l-f-l)
EPRA vacancy rate
EPRA vacancy rate (l-f-l)
Statement of financial position
Cash and cash equivalents
Total financing liabilities
Current financing liabilities
Adj. EPRA NAV, diluted
Adj. EPRA NAV per share, diluted
EPRA NTA, diluted
EPRA NTA per share, diluted
bp = basis points
With around 145,000 rental properties and approximately 400,000 residents, LEG is one of Germany’s leading listed housing companies. The company has seven branch offices in its heartland in North Rhine-Westphalia and is represented by local personal contacts at selected locations in other western German states.
LEG generated income of around EUR 861 million from its core rental and lease business in the 2020 financial year. As part of the new construction campaign it launched in 2018, LEG wishes to make a social contribution towards creating both privately financed and publicly subsidised housing and to build or acquire at least 500 new apartments per year from 2023 onwards.
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This publication constitutes neither a solicitation to buy nor an offer to sell securities.
To the extent that we express forecasts or expectations or make forward-looking statements in this document, these statements can entail known and unknown risks and uncertainties. These statements reflect the intentions, opinions or current expectations and assumptions of LEG Immobilien SE. The forward-looking statements are based on current planning, estimates and forecasts, which LEG Immobilien SE has made to the best of its knowledge, but that are not a statement on their future accuracy. Actual results and developments can therefore differ materially from the expectations and assumptions expressed.