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Egypt real estate – Subpar economic conditions warrant selectivity

HC Brokerage issued their update about Egypt’s real estate sector shedding the light on six main players’ performance following the most recent market dynamics.

  • While sector investment demand benefited from inflation and EGP devaluation fears, currently, it is hurt by lower affordability, cost overruns, and challenging financing

  • We expect further market consolidation following sector conditions and the EGP devaluation; revaluation of assets is currently underway for the acquisition targets

Mariam Elsaadany, real estate analyst at HC Brokerage commented that: “ Soaring inflation is pressuring affordability and leading to cost overruns; in our view: A high inflation environment, causing negative real interest rates, has historically served the Egyptian real estate sector well, as investors usually view it as a safe haven. However, the current macro environment is challenging to the industry, in our view. Cost-inflationary pressures, caused by soaring inflation rates, which averaged 13.8% in 2022, led to cost overruns and pushed developers to resort to receivables securitization more than bank debt, which pressured their operating margins. We expect this to continue into 2023e as we expect inflation to average 21.5%. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) raised the key policy rates by 800 bps in 2022, and the EGP devalued by c37% in 2022 and by c18% y-t-d. To fend off dollarization and keep inflation in check, Egyptian public banks issued high-yielding certificates of deposits (CDs), offering an interest rate of as much as 25.0%, and private banks followed suit. In our view, the high-yielding CDs compete with investment in the real estate sector, adversely impacting its pre-sales which only grew by c8% in 9M22 in terms of value, while volume dropped c5% y-o-y for the six developers we track, as opposed to growing by c59% in 2021, which was volume and value-driven. Developers could not extend payment plans further, as previous years’ extended payment plans had already stretched their cash flows, raising concerns about affordability. In 2023e, we expect pre-sales growth to be price-driven.”

Elsaadany added: “Tourism recovery and EGP devaluation lead us to prefer developers with hospitality exposure; while we keep an eye on M&A targets: Given the currency outlook and a recovering tourism sector, as evidenced by higher occupancy rates, we like companies with significant hospitality operations, namely Orascom Development Egypt (ORHD EY) and Talaat Moustafa Group Holding (TMGH EY). Also, in light of a high-interest rate environment, we like developers who have been active in deleveraging their balance sheets and building on their ready-to-move inventory, putting themselves at a cost advantage, like Palm Hills Developments (PHDC EY). The three stocks also enjoy solid fundamentals and decent market liquidity. We believe three of the six companies under our coverage are subject to M&A speculation and/or currently the subject of a potential deal with ORHD’s sale of its subsidiary, Orascom Real Estate (ORE) to SODIC, under study. Also, in our view, MNHD and HELI are the two other developers we believe are most likely to be the subject of a potential acquisition due to their attractive land bank. As a result, the stock prices of ORHD, MNHD, and HELI rallied c20%, c43%, and c18%, respectively, during 2022, implying a value of EGP615/sqm of land for HELI and EGP1,227/sqm for MNHD at the current market prices. Given the outlook on the EGP, we maintain a favorable view on acquisition targets during 2023e despite them offering lower potential returns based on our valuations. The valuations for the deals/potential deals seen by the market ranged from EGP878/sqm—1,192/sqm of undeveloped land. The most recent offer by SODIC to acquire Orascom Real Estate (ORE), a subsidiary of Orascom Development Egypt (ORHD EY), implied a price of EGP878/sqm, or USD45/sqm. In our view, future potential deals should see a significant increase on an EGP basis.”

“The sector challenges are reflected in stock prices which are currently oversold with an average 2023e P/NAV and P/E ratios of 0.34x and 6.08x (excluding HELI), respectively, suggesting that the overselling is excessive, in our view. PHDC and TMGH stocks have not rallied as much as other real estate names despite both companies delivering good results, PHDC initiating a share buyback program, and both stocks paying dividends. PHDC is trading at a 2023e P/NAV of 0.29x, and TMGH is trading at 0.32x, lower than the sector’s average. PHDC offers the highest potential return of c83% and TMGH c57%, while the market assigns a negative value to TMGH’s land bank. Therefore, we maintain our Overweight recommendations for the two stocks.

In our view, an economic pickup, monetary easing, and the development of the mortgage market for the upper-middle segment would be the sector’s key triggers.”, Mariam Elsaadany concluded.