Segro’s Full-Year Profit Rises After Reducing Vacancies

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Segro Plc, the U.K.’s largest publicly traded owner of industrial properties, said full-year earnings rose 4.8 percent after the company sold assets and reduced vacancies.

Profit excluding changes in property values and one-time items rose to 143 million pounds ($216 million) from 136.4 million pounds a year earlier, the Slough, England-based company said in a statement today. The average of seven analysts’ estimates was for earnings of 138.9 million pounds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Segro in January said its real estate portfolio had declined in value by about 180 million pounds in the second half of 2012 on weaker markets in the U.K. and continental Europe. Offices in southeast England accounted for 75 million pounds of the decline. The company’s assets, which include data centers, distribution warehouses and light-industrial parks, are also located in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.

“Increased levels of international trade, the outsourcing of distribution by manufacturers and retailers and growth in consumer spending have created robust demand for warehousing space over this period,” Chief Executive Officer David Sleath said in the statement. “The opportunity to convert industrial land to ‘higher value uses’ such as offices, retail units or trade counters, has also enhanced the returns available from owning industrial property.”

Wider Loss

Revenue fell 6 percent to 254.8 million pounds. The net loss widened to 197.3 million pounds from 30.4 million pounds, the company said.

The amount of vacant space in Segro’s portfolio fell to 8.2 percent, a 10-year low, compared with 9.1 percent at the end of 2011. Vacancies will rise in the first quarter to about 9.5 percent after an industrial property in Frankfurt became fully vacant, Sleath said. About 15 percent of the building has now been leased to a new tenant, he said by telephone.

Segro will try to change the property’s planning consent to widen its appeal to potential tenants. It’s also been approached by investors looking to acquire the building, Sleath said by phone.

Sleath said in November 2011 that he plans to sell 1.6 billion pounds of real estate to help repay debt and focus on more profitable properties close to major transportation hubs or large cities across Europe. So far, the company has sold 700 million pounds of properties, including 152 million pounds received since the end of the financial year, at a 3.6 percent average discount to December 2011 book values.

“Secondary property prices have been weakening,” Sleath said. “These assets we’ve sold would have been marked down lower by now if we hadn’t sold them.”

The company plans to sell 300 million to 500 million pounds of real estate this year, he said in the statement.

The value of the company’s 1 billion-pound Slough Trading Estate near London’s Heathrow Airport depreciated 4.8 percent last year because of shorter leases, according to the statement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Neil Callanan in London at ncallanan@bloomberg.net; Ross Larsen in London at Rlarsen2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Blackman at ablackman@bloomberg.net.