SINGAPORE (Apr 22): The manager of Mapletree Commercial Trust (MCT) has reported distribution per unit (DPU) of 0.91 cents for 4QFY2019/20 ended March, a steep drop compared to DPU of 2.31 cents declared a year ago.

This was reported in anticipation of uncertainties arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, which include lower shopper traffic and tenant sales at VivoCity. 

This brings full-year DPU for FY2019/20 to 8.00 cents, down 12.5% from DPU of 9.14 cents for FY2018/19. 

4Q2019/20 gross revenue grew 12.8% to $127.3 million, from $112.9 million a year ago. This was largely due to contributions from Mapletree Business City (MBC) II, which was acquired by the Trust in September 2019.

Property operating expenses also increased 13.5% to $28.7 million, from last year’s $25.3 million, mainly due to MBC II, lower property maintenance expenses, property taxes and property management fees offset by higher marketing and promotion expenses incurred by existing properties.

Consequently, net property income (NPI) rose 12.6% to $98.6 million, from $87.6 million a year ago.

The growth came despite handing out $8.8 million worth of Covid-19 rental rebates on top of the relief packages granted by the government.

Excluding $43.7 million of distribution by way of capital allowance claims and capital distribution retention to “better position” itself in 4QFY19/20, the amount available for distribution fell some 55% to $30.1 million, from $66.86 million during the same period last year.

Earnings per unit fell to 17.74 cents for FY2019/20, from 20.10 cents a year ago.

Occupancy as at end March remained high at 98.7%, while the weighted average lease expiry (WALE) of its portfolio stood at 2.6 years on a committed basis; the WALE was 2.1 years based on the date of commencement of leases.

 As at end March, cash and cash equivalents stood at $65.9 million.

The Trust had maintained a strong balance sheet by refinancing its term loans due in FY19/20 in advance, and a well-distributed debt maturity profile with no more than 17% of debt due for refinancing in any financial year. It also maintained financial flexibility from $321.0 million of cash and undrawn committed facilities.

“As the Covid-19 situation is still evolving rapidly, there remains a significant degree of uncertainty over its duration and severity, and when normalcy can resume. While we remain well-capitalised with ample financial flexibility, we must continue to exercise prudence,” says Sharon Lim, chief executive officer of the manager.

“In unprecedented times like these, we stand in solidarity with our stakeholders. In view of the “circuit breaker” implemented nationwide from 7 April 2020, we will be waiving the April fixed rent for eligible retail tenants. We hope that this, as well as the $29 million of assistance implemented for our retail tenants previously, can give them some helpful relief,” she adds.

Units in Mapletree Commercial Trust closed 3 cents lower, or down 1.7%, at $1.77 on Wednesday, before the results announcement.