Emaar Drops Most in 3 Weeks as Dividend Disappoints: Dubai Mover

Emaar Properties PJSC fell the most in more than three weeks as the real-estate company proposed no change to its annual cash dividend despite a property recovery in Dubai.

Shares of the developer of the world’s tallest tower declined 2.8 percent, the largest retreat since Feb. 3, to 5.14 dirhams at the close in Dubai. Emaar fell the most on the benchmark DFM General Index, which lost 1 percent. The company proposed a dividend of 10 fils per share for 2012, matching payouts in the prior two years.

“The market is disappointed as investors were expecting 15 fils to 20 fils this year, even though the chairman indicated that Emaar needs to retain liquidity,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, managing director of Abu Dhabi Financial Services Co., the brokerage unit of National Bank of Abu Dhabi PJSC. “I’m sure there will be a lot of lobbying and haggling to raise the dividend to 15 fils at the annual general meeting.”

Investors in Dubai stocks, which have rallied almost 19 percent this year, are chasing dividends after the emirate’s economy grew at the fastest pace in five years, according to government estimates. Emaar’s profit jumped 18 percent in 2012 following a decline a year earlier. The developer made no payouts in 2008 and 2009 amid a real estate crash in the city that sent home prices tumbling more than 65 percent.

Dividend Debate

Emaar, which said it will hold an AGM on April 9, agreed to resume dividend payouts in 2010 following a three-hour meeting that saw heated arguments between the shareholders and executives, who wanted to conserve cash for projects. The developer this month said it will offer units of a luxury hotel and apartment development in Dubai and Riyadh on March 2 following a sell-out response to those made available at a separate project in Downtown Dubai in January.

The dividend proposal was understandable “in light of the liquidity it needs to fund the future projects that the company announced and will commence in the near future,” said Nabil Farhat, partner at Abu Dhabi-based Al Fajer Securities.

Dubai announced in November plans to develop a new district with the world’s largest mall, 100 hotels and gardens larger than London’s Hyde Park, which Emaar will co-develop. The company’s 2013 net income is set to rise 7 percent, according to the mean estimate of 11 analysts on Bloomberg.

Excluding today’s decline, the shares surged 41 percent this year, making it the best-performing stock on the benchmark DFM General Index.

Ten analysts recommend investors buy Emaar shares and three say to hold them, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. HSBC Holdings Plc said earlier this month it expects the stock to increase to 6 dirhams.

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