Good times ahead for Malaysia's industrial property sector

PETALING JAYA: The industrial property segment is expected to see stronger growth prospects in the year ahead, while the outlook for other segments in the property market such as residential and commercial appear muted amid the challenging economic landscape.

As it is, several developers have accelerated their efforts to deepen their involvement in the industrial property segment.

For instance, Eco World Development Group Bhd (EcoWorld) is currently looking to acquire new land bank for industrial properties after the company’s industrial property sales jumped 1.5 times year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM753mil in the financial year ended Oct 31, 2022, Maybank Investment Bank (Maybank IB) Research observed.

In addition, Sime Darby Property Bhd has acquired 949 acres of agricultural land from Sime Darby Plantation Bhd for RM618mil, or RM15 per sq ft, early this month, the brokerage noted, adding that it understood the land would be developed into an industrial park.

“Industrial properties have gained traction in 2022, especially after the reopening of international borders in April 2022.

“We expect the strong sales momentum to extend into 2023 with rising investment diversion from China on persisting US-China trade war,” Maybank IB wrote in its report yesterday.

It said the industrial property segment would likely be the saving grace for the overall property market amid the challenging times in the year ahead.

On that note, it said industrial parks continue to be favoured, with preference for lowly-geared township developers.

Maybank IB maintained its “neutral” stance on the property sector in general.

External factors such as tightening monetary policy, supply chain disruptions and labour shortage issues would likely linger into 2023, it explained, adding that these factors could continue to weigh on property stocks.

“Developers are turning cautious and intend to slow down their property launches,” the research house said.

It expected FY23 sales targets to be flat or just marginally higher from the preceding year due to slower launches by developers, as the labour supply issues persisted and remained unresolved.

“To avoid higher construction costs and potential delays in product delivery, a few developers plan to slow down their launches.

“Also, developers are cautious on property demand as higher interest rates would hit buyers’ affordability,” Maybank IB said.

It pointed out that while a higher interest rate had yet to hurt property sales momentum in a significant way, its recent conversations with developers revealed that demand on mid-to-low end properties was slowing as low-to-middle income buyers’ affordability may have been hit by interest rate hikes.

It noted that mortgage loan applications in October 2022, for instance, had declined 7% quarter-on-quarter and 15% y-o-y to RM33.5bil.

Of the seven developers under its coverage, three performed in line, with net profit meeting expectations, during the recent reporting season, Maybank IB said.

These were EcoWorld, Sime Darby Property and Sunway Bhd.

Two developers with results above expectations were Tambun Indah Land Bhd and UEM Sunrise Bhd, while two others, namely S P Setia Bhd and Eco World International Bhd (EcoWorld International), underperformed due to lower-than-expected project margins.

Sales-wise, EcoWorld, EcoWorld International, Sime Darby Property and Tambun Indah had either fully met their FY22 targets or on track to meeting them, while S P Setia, Sunway and UEM Sunrise seemed to have some way to go to achieving their targets for this year.

“UEM Sunrise is unlikely to meet its FY22 sales target of RM1.5bil due to the delay of a few new launches while S P Setia and Sunway remain confident of achieving their FY22 sales targets,” Maybank IB said.

It recommended “buy” on EcoWorld, Sime Darby Property and Tambun Indah. It also had a “tactical buy” call on EcoWorld International.

News from The Star Property- Posted on 

29 Dec 2022