SATO’s housing portfolio worth €2.5 billion
29 January 2015
A strong year for investment behind, investments in rental housing continue
• Profit before taxes improved by 8.1 (16.1) % on the previous year,
reaching €152.2 (140.8) million.
• The change in the fair value of rental apartments included in the profit
was €63.8 (59.6) million.
• Shareholders' equity was €892.2 (821.7) million, €17.55 (16.16) per share.
• Return on equity was 14.0 (15.5) %.
• Investments in rental apartments totalled €174.1 (190.6) million.
• Rental income grew by 6.0 % to €243.2 (229.5) million.
• The rental occupancy rate was 97.2 (97.7) %.
• The proposal for dividend and capital repayment is €0.62 (0.60) per share.
President and CEO Erkka Valkila:
- 2014 was a good year for SATO; we reached nearly all our targets. We succeeded in our investments and rental income increased. Through procurements and actions enhancing energy efficiency, we decreased our maintenance costs and our profitability improved. Our customers' desire to recommend us also increased. However, the significant weakening of the exchange rate of the Russian rouble had a negative impact on profit and the value of the St. Petersburg housing portfolio.
- Our own land inventory and property development improve opportunities for investments. Our knowledge of the market, created by long experience, gives us a competitive edge when designing apartments and apartment-related services.
- SATO has a good basis to succeed in the future, as well. Urban development, immigration and a greater appreciation of rental living increase the demand for rental apartments in our business areas. Our versatile and developing service concepts respond to the needs of living.
The Finnish economy has been declining for three consecutive years, and the long-term growth prospects continued to weaken during the review period. In the Euro zone, weak economic growth and low interest rates had a positive impact on SATO's result. In addition to difficulties in Finland, the global political situation and the economic and currency crisis in Russia have a negative impact on the outlook for Finland and contribute to increased uncertainty.
In Finland, consumer confidence has remained at a below-average level for a long time. Purchasing power has decreased, and consumption habits are changing. However, unemployment rates have weakened relatively little in this difficult economic situation.
In the long term, urbanisation, decrease in the average family size and immigration support an increase in the demand for rental housing in SATO's operating regions, especially in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Therefore, SATO continued active investments. SATO's investments remained close to the previous year's level, amounting to approximately €174 (191) million.
Interest towards investing in housing increased in the market, and new housing funds were established which created more competition. The deterioration in consumers' purchasing power and increased competition were reflected in SATO's rental operations, but after the spring, the situation improved significantly.
Consumers’ home-purchasing intentions were below average. The number of housing units for sale – both new constructions and old apartments – has reached its lowest level in over two years. The volume of apartment sales in owner-occupied homes decreased for the second consecutive year. During the last five years, price development in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area has clearly differentiated from that in the rest of Finland.
Demand for rental apartments in St. Petersburg continued to be good, and the rental occupancy rate improved from the previous year. In the spring, SATO decided to refrain from making new investment decisions concerning St. Petersburg until the Russian economy and political climate become more stable. The weakening of the Russian rouble decreased the euro-denominated value of apartments owned by SATO in St. Petersburg and, consequently, weakened SATO's result.
In its financial reporting, the Group's rental housing is divided into two segments - SATO business and VATRO business.
SATO business includes rental housing free of restrictions and entailing a shorter period of restriction, as well as the construction of owner-occupied housing. VATRO business deals with rental housing with longer periods of restriction.
Changes in reporting practices 2015
According to the Group's strategy, new investments in the 2000s have been allocated to SATO business. As the significance of VATRO business has decreased to less than eight per cent, SATO decided to abandon the current segment division in the reporting for 2015. As of 1 January 2015, SATO's business will be reported as one entity.
As of the financial year 2015, SATO will change the presentation of its profit and loss account from type of expense-specific to function-specific reporting. The change aims at providing investors with more accurate information on the allocation of income and expenses to different business areas.
Net sales and profit
In the year under review, Group net sales were €312.3 (311.5) million. €271.8 (272.4) million was attributed to SATO business and €40.5 (39.1) million to VATRO business.
An increase in the number of investment properties, efficient rental business and an increase in the level of rents improved rental income by 6.0 (7.9) per cent. Its share of the turnover was €243.2 (229.5) million.
The share of SATO business of the result before taxes was €145.4 (135.2) million, and that of VATRO business €6.8 (5.6) million.
The Group's operating profit was €191.3 (178.3) million.
The Group's profit before taxes grew by 8.1 (16.1) per cent to €152.2 (140.8) million. The improvement in profit was a result of increased rental income, low financing costs, good cost management and a larger positive change in fair value than in the previous year.
The fair value change of rental properties included in the profit was €63.8 (59.6) million. The change was attributed to the positive effects of housing price development, increase in rental income and expiry of restrictions on some properties, and the negative effects of the weakening rouble.
The rise in rouble-denominated prices in St. Petersburg increased the value of SATO's housing portfolio by €3.1 million; however, the deterioration of the exchange rate of the rouble decreased the St. Petersburg housing portfolio's value by €41.2 million. The net profit effect of these changes on SATO's result was €38.1 million.
More information on the determination of the fair value is available in section 11 of the notes to the financial statements.
The consolidated balance sheet total on 31 Dec 2014 was €2,801.6 (2,595.8) million. Shareholders' equity was €892.2 (821.7) million. Shareholders' equity per share was €17.55 (16.16).
The Group's equity ratio was 31.8 (31.7) per cent. The targeted equity ratio is at least 25 per cent.
The return on equity for 2014 exceeded the targeted level of 12 per cent and was 14.0 (15.5) per cent. Return on investment was 7.7 (7.7) per cent.
The financial situation of the Group and parent company was good throughout the financial year. The Group's financial assets at year-end were €31.8 (46.4) million.
Interest-bearing liabilities at the end of the financial period were €1,584.9 (1,501.3) million, of which market rate loans totalled €1,208.7 (1,106.5) million. A breakdown of loans is given in section 24 of the notes to the financial statements.
At the end of the review period, the average interest rate for loans was 2.6 (2.9) per cent. Net financing expenses during the review period totalled €39.1 (37.6) million.
During the financial year, new long-term financing was raised in the amount of €150.9 million in total. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio without the VATRO segment was 56 (56) per cent at the end of the review period.
The average maturity of the loan portfolio was 5.3 (5.7) years, excluding state-subsidised ARAVA loans.
In accordance with the Group's financial policy, efforts will be made to keep the share of fixed-rate loans over 60 per cent of all loans. At the time of closing the books, the share was 67.3 (67.4) per cent.
During the financial year, the computational effect of changes in the market value of hedges on shareholders' equity was €-18.2 (11.5) million.
The Group's cash flow during the year under review was good. Cash flow from business operations was boosted by the improvement in operating profit by roughly €13.0 million.
SATO Corporation is the parent company of the SATO Group. At year-end, the parent company had a total of 7 (7) subsidiaries engaged in business.
Total housing portfolio and fair value
On 31 Dec 2014, SATO owned a total of 24,173 (23,828) homes, 20,092 (19,741) of which belonged to the SATO business and 4,081 (4,087) to the VATRO business. During the review period, the number of homes increased by 345.
The fair value of rental property totalled €2,528.0 (2,316.0) million, and the change in fair value was €212.0 (228.0) million. Rental income development, investments, market price development, divestments, the change in the exchange rate of the rouble and the expiry of restrictions on some properties affected the value development.
The Helsinki Metropolitan Area accounts for approximately 80 per cent in housing property, whereas Tampere, Turku, Oulu and Jyväskylä jointly account for approximately 16 per cent, and St. Petersburg for roughly 4 per cent.
Investments in rental properties and divestments
Investment activities create growth. Investments are mainly targeted at the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, where demand for rented homes and prospects for appreciation are seen to be best.
In the year under review, investments totalled €174.1 (190.6) million, which is about 7 per cent of the value of investment properties. To renew the housing stock, the aim is to target an average of 70 per cent of investments in new housing. The share of new housing was €117.4 (124.6) million, which was about 68 per cent of all investments.
During the year under review, the number of rented homes acquired in Finland was 706 (685), of which 563
(208) were new apartments. At year-end, 571 (1,029) new rental apartments were under construction in Finland. At the end of the financial year, the company had binding contracts for acquisitions worth €58.4 (103.5) million in Finland.
The most significant investment was in 126 privately financed rental homes in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, bought from ICECAPITAL Housing Fund I Ky. The value of the transaction was €23.1 million.
The sum used for renovating the housing stock and improving the quality of apartments in Finland was €49.0 (43.4) million.
During the financial year, 444 (463) homes were divested in Finland for a total of €25.9 (22.8) million. The divested homes were, for the most part, located outside SATO's targeted business area.
Efficient rental business secures rapid availability for people who need a home and a steady trend in cash flow for the company. The rental service is mainly taken care of by SATO itself.
The financial rental occupancy rate in Finland was on a good level, averaging 97.2 (97.7) per cent, and occupant turnover averaged 37.3 (36.3) per cent. The average rent per square metre for rented homes during the period under review was €15.35 (14.75)/month.
According to SATO's estimate, the net rental income improved from the previous year and totalled €148.8 (137.3) million. Continued good demand, an increased number of homes, cost-efficient maintenance work and improvements in rental business and customer service supported the increase in net rental income.
The company's own land inventory brings a competitive edge by enabling the development of rental apartments, which respond best to demand.
The book value of the Group’s building land inventory at the end of the review period was €71.6 (88.3) million. During the review period, new plots were acquired to a value of €5.3 (7.5) million. In addition, land reservations were made for the implementation of approximately 12,000 square metres of floor area, i.e. around 160 apartments. The book value of the building land inventory sold and transferred to housing construction during the year was €13.7 (25.1) million.
Plan development projects were underway, for example, in Perkkaa and Niittykumpu in Espoo, Martinlaakso in Vantaa, Verkkosaari in Helsinki, and the centre of Kirkkonummi.
In the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, many commercial premises are empty or becoming empty. SATO has initiated several reviews on converting commercial properties into rental apartment use.
During the financial year, a total of 549 (232) rental properties and 223 (226) owner-occupied homes were completed in Finland. On 31 Dec 2014, there were 571 (1,029) rental properties and 159 (292) owner-occupied homes under construction.
Production of owner-occupied housing generates synergies in housing investments, and apartments most suitable for renting are acquired as investment properties. At year-end, the completed, unsold owner-occupied homes numbered 94 (65) and those under construction numbered 94 (235), with a total acquisition value of €90.9 (120.6) million. SATO’s owner-occupied homes are usually not sold until after completion, in accordance with the SATO OwnerHome concept.
Business in St. Petersburg
The housing market in St. Petersburg is similar in size to the Finnish housing market. The expansion of investments in St. Petersburg, initiated in 2007, has improved SATO's possibilities for growth. The share of the Group's housing property in St. Petersburg is limited to 10 per cent.
At the end of the year under review, the fair value of the St. Petersburg housing portfolio totalled €101.7 (112.4) million, which equals 4 per cent of SATO's housing property value. At year-end, binding contracts for acquisitions totalled €10.7 (23.7) million in value. SATO had a total of 313 (237) completed apartments and 217 (219) units under construction in St. Petersburg.
The rental occupancy rate for apartments averaged 92.6 (90.8) per cent during the year under review. The average rent per square metre for rented homes during the review period was €20.13 (23.90)/month. The decrease in rents was affected by the weakening of the exchange rate of the rouble.
The making of new investment decisions concerning St. Petersburg will depend on the development of the Russian operating environment.
In order to create a competitive edge, SATO is investing in improving its customer relationships. The customer experience development is measured in terms of the Net Promoter Score, NPS. In the year under review, the NPS score was 26 (23). The target is to achieve an NPS value of 40 by the end of 2020.
In order to improve the customer experience, the quality of rental homes and encounters with customers are being enhanced. Further focus areas include digital services with an increased number of language versions available. The number of customer interface personnel has been increased, and the employees' competencies have been improved. During the year under review, the contents of services provided by building management and maintenance partners was revamped, and more harmonised customer satisfaction targets were defined.
The 2014 annual report is the first one in which SATO features sustainability reporting according to the GRI reporting guidelines. The report describes the company's economic, environmental and social sustainability based on a materiality assessment made in 2013.
Corporate responsibility is embedded in everyday work at SATO. Our sustainability policy is available on our website.
In 2015, we will continue developing our operating models and indicators by participating in The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) process.
The control of energy consumption plays a key role in the prevention of harmful environment impact created by housing. In order to support the climate-related targets set by itself and by society, SATO is committed to the property sector's energy-efficiency agreement included in the state's action programme for rented home communities (VAETS) and to a climate partnership agreement with the City of Helsinki. SATO's short-term goal is to reduce the specific consumption of heat by 15 per cent by 2016. Efforts are being made to achieve this target already in 2015.
SATO has also set longer-term goals, which account for the impacts of tightened construction regulations, renewal of the building base and improvement of energy efficiency. According to these goals, SATO is aiming to decrease the specific consumption of heat and water in properties by 20 per cent by 2020. The reference year is 2009. The consumption of electricity should be kept at its current level.
In the year under review, the specific consumption of heat decreased by 2.2 per cent, and the consumption of electricity decreased by 1.8 per cent compared to the 2013 level. The specific consumption of water increased 1.7 per cent compared to the 2013 level.
Specific emissions generated by SATO's rental apartments totalled 40.4 (45.5) kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per square metre of living space. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent by 2020.
The Group's environmental programme can be read in its entirety on the website www.sato.fi
Research and development
Development work was targeted at increasing the understanding of customers and developing product concepts, improving electronic services and renewing IT systems. During the year under review, SATO spent a total of €0.8 (1.8) million on research and development, which is equivalent to 0.3 per cent of turnover.
SATO's risk management is based on guidelines for corporate governance, as well as on the systematic risk assessment embodied in the strategic and annual planning process. To control and mitigate risks, procedures will be initiated if necessary to prevent the realisation of risks or to attempt to enhance the monitoring of a specific subdivision. An internal audit is carried out by an independent party, and auditing is targeted in accordance with the risk assessments of the strategic and annual planning process.
The development of SATO's result has been steady in the last few years. The reporting practice was changed starting from 1 Jan 2014 so that the change in the fair value of investment properties is presented in the profit and loss account. Due to this, changes in exchange rates can increase fluctuations in results concerning the price level of apartments and housing portfolio in St. Petersburg.
The main risks of selling and leasing homes concern economic cycles and changes in demand. SATO's Board of Directors has set euro limits to the total amount of unsold homes and land inventory.
A positive trend in the value of the housing and the rentability of the homes portfolio are secured by concentrating on the urban centres of growth. Systematic repairs help to enhance the quality of the Group's housing portfolio. Changes in requirements for energy efficiency and environmental aspects may increase the cost of repairs to SATO's investment properties.
Business in St. Petersburg involves risks related to the business environment, as well as a currency risk. Transaction exposure in foreign currency related to the acquisition of properties is hedged in accordance with the Group's financing policy. The proportion of investments in St. Petersburg has been restricted relative to the Group's total housing investments.
To secure the continuity of services purchased from partners, operations have been distributed between a number of service providers.
In accordance with the Group's financial policy, efforts will be made to keep fixed-rate loans over 60 per cent of all loans. The Group has set an equity ratio target.
The Group's risks, in respect of property, business interruption and liability for damages, are secured with appropriate insurance coverage.
Further information on risk management is given on www.sato..fi
Lawsuits and countersuits between the contracting parties are pending in connection with the implementation of and invoicing for an owner-occupied property built in the Arabianranta district of Helsinki. Also, a ruling has been applied for, from the Supreme Administrative Court, concerning the Group contribution to one SATO Group company.
Shares and share capital
The share capital of SATO Corporation, as per 31 Dec 2014, was € 4,442,192.00, and the number of shares was 51,001,842. The company has a single series of shares. The shares are in a book-entry securities system maintained by Euroclear Finland Ltd.
SATO Corporation holds 160,000 company shares. These shares represent 0.3 per cent of all shares.
The members of the SATO Corporations Board of Directors, the President and CEO and his deputy held a total of 537,812 shares on 31 Dec 2014.
At the end of 2014, the Group had 169 (156) employees. There were 156 (145) employees on permanent contracts and 13 (11) on fixed-term contracts. The number of Group personnel averaged 165 (156) during the year.
In order to improve the chances of youth employment, a total of 22 people aged 15 to 28 year-olds were employed in summer work. The aim was to provide young people with opportunities to obtain work experience.
Board of Directors, President and CEO, and auditors
Serving on SATO's Board of Directors until the annual general meeting of 5 March 2014 were Juha Laaksonen (chairman), Jorma Kuokkanen (Vice Chairman), and ordinary members Timo Hukka, Vesa Immonen, Tarja Pääkkönen and Niina Rajakoski.
The annual general meeting, held on 5 March 2014, confirmed the number of members on SATO Corporations
Board of Directors as seven. Juha Laaksonen was re-elected as Chairman of the Board, and Timo Hukka, Vesa Immonen, Niina Rajakoski and Tarja Pääkkönen as members of the Board. Esa Lager and Ilkka Tomperi were elected as new Board members. The Board elected, from its own number, Esa Lager as Vice Chairman of the Board of SATO Corporation.
SATO Corporation's extraordinary general meeting, on 23 October 2014, decided to confirm the number of SATO Corporation Board members as eight. The general meeting decided to elect Andrea Attisani as a new member as of 23 Oct 2014.
In 2014, the Board of Directors convened on 11 occasions. Board work is supported by two committees comprised of Board members: the Nomination and Remuneration Committee and the Audit Committee.
Erkka Valkila, B.Sc. (Eng.), has served as President and CEO. Tuula Entelä, LL.M., B.Sc. (Econ.), is deputy to the President and CEO.
The company's auditors were KPMG Oy Ab, a firm of Authorised Public Accountants, with Lasse Holopainen, APA, as the auditor in charge.
Members of the Corporate Management Group
The Corporate Management Group was comprised of President and CEO Erkka Valkila; Vice Presidents Tuula Entelä and Pasi Suutari; Director, Customer Relationships and Communications Monica Aro; and Chief Financial Officer Esa Neuvonen.
The growth of the Finnish economy and general confidence are estimated to remain weak. In SATO's operating environment, business is most affected by consumer confidence, the rent and price development of apartments and interest rates.
The demand for rental housing is expected to continue to be good in SATO's areas of operation and mainly be targeted at small homes. Approximately 80 per cent of SATO's apartments are located in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, where rent and price development is steadiest. SATO's supply responds to the need for small homes; the average surface area of SATO's apartments is 57 square metres.
Increasing urbanisation and immigration are creating good prospects for continuing investments in Finland. Due to continuing demand and new investments, SATO's net rental income is estimated to improve compared to last year. Rent rises, however, are estimated to be more moderate than in the last few years.
Interest rates are expected to remain low, which has a positive effect on SATO's business.
According to forecasts, the Russian economy will decline as a result of the economical sanctions placed because of the crisis in Ukraine, and the decreasing price of oil. Approximately 4 per cent of SATO's housing portfolio is located in St. Petersburg. SATO will refrain from new investment decisions until the Russian economy and political situation stabilise.
Board's proposal for capital repayment and the disposal of profits
The parent company's distributable assets on 31 Dec 2014 were €102,522,199.06, of which the net profit for the financial year was €26,169,102.61. The number of issued shares in the company in 2014 conferring entitlement to dividend for 2014 is 50,841,842. According to dividend policy, the aim is to distribute stable, competitive dividends.
The Board of Directors will propose to the annual general meeting that as capital repayment and dividends, €0.62 per share be paid, in total €31,521,942.04 be paid as capital repayment and dividends. The Board of Directors will propose to the annual general meeting that, based on the balance sheet of 31 Dec 2014 confirmed by the meeting, capital repayment of €0.42 per share be paid. The capital repayment will be paid from the invested unrestricted equity fund. Moreover, the Board of Directors proposes to the annual general meeting that dividend be paid on the profit for the financial year of €0.20 (0.18) per share, being a total of €10,168,368.40, and that €16,000,734.21 be posted to retained profits.
Capital repayment and dividend will be payable to a shareholder who, on the date of record for payment, 5 March 2015, has been entered in the register of the company's shareholders, maintained by Euroclear Finland Ltd. According to the proposal, capital repayment and dividend be payable on 20 March 2015.
Since the end of the financial year, there have been no significant changes in the company's financial status.
Main shareholders 15 January 2015
On 15 January 2015, the number of shareholders subscribed in the book-entry system was 38. The turnover of shares during the review period amounted to 31.8 per cent.
Key financial indicators, the Group
Erkka Valkila, President & CEO, tel. +358 201 34 4001, mobile +358 50 62 050
Esa Neuvonen, CFO, tel. +358 201 34 4005, mobile +358 40 5001 003