Atlantic Leaf ‘well positioned’ to deal with Covid-19 backlash

Paul Leaf-Wright, CEO of Atlantic Leaf Properties.
Paul Leaf-Wright, CEO of Atlantic Leaf Properties.

Atlantic Leaf Properties Limited has released its results for the year ended 28 February 2020, announcing a final distribution of 4.50 GBP pence per share for the six months ended 28 February, bringing the total dividend for the year to 9.0 GBP pence per share.

The Company performed in line with expectation for the year and achieved an adjusted earnings per share of 10.54 GBP pence per share (2019: 9.31 GBP pence per share) up 13% over the prior year.

Commenting on the results, CEO Paul Leaf-Wright said, “We continued to benefit from a strong tenant base, with only the Peterborough asset being vacant at year end. Rental revenue increased by 8% over the prior year. We also benefited from the timely disposal of the property in Runcorn in February 2020 which realised a profit on sale of GBP 4.3 million. The sale not only resulted in a pleasing internal rate of return of 16% over the time we held the asset but has significantly strengthened our cash position at an opportune time.

The Company has a strong cash position with GBP 26 million at the year-end and GBP 1,6 million of available facilities. At year-end, its loan to value ratio was 40%, down from 48% last year.

Shaun Fourie, Chief Investment Officer commented, “We will continue to work with all our tenants during this very challenging time to ensure that we maximise our rental collections while also providing support to those tenants where it is needed. The first 2021 quarter’s rent collection was positive for the Company, and we hope that the businesses which have been required to curtail operations during the lock down will be able to recommence activities soon.”

In FY 2021 the Company will benefit from rent uplifts on the 28 properties leased to Booker. However, on the downside, there will be no income from the vacant portion of the Peterborough asset until the refurbished space is re-let. The Company’s plan is to commence with construction (estimated cost GBP 3,3 million) to subdivide the space into smaller lot sizes and secure tenants for the individual units.

To date, we have received good interest in the property, but the take up may be slower than we had originally hoped for. We have estimated that occupation of the vacant space could commence from September 2020,” added Fourie.

Leaf-Wright noted, “Whilst we will no doubt continue to be impacted by Covid-19, our current cash position is strong, and we believe that we are well positioned to deal with this period of uncertainty.”

Leaf-Wright added, “The results cover a period before the full impact of Covid-19. The market should note that going forward there may well be greater uncertainty in the markets in which Atlantic Leaf operates. As a result, and consistent with many other companies, we will not be providing earnings guidance for the year ahead.”