The continued execution of this strategy, in a period that has included further disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, has been supported by a growing digital economy and increased customer demand for warehouse and logistics space close to consumers.
We have continued to be successful by remaining agile, embracing opportunities and making positive changes to the business. These changes have included new sustainability and capital management initiatives that are focused on the long term.
Strategies to deal with the disruption of COVID-19 have evolved over the last 12 months as the threat from the virus has changed.
New technologies and agile work practices have enabled our people to continue working through Alert Level and Traffic Light restrictions, while new health and safety measures have protected their wellbeing. These precautions have also applied to our worksites and governed our interactions with customers, contractors, and other stakeholders.
The wider response to the pandemic has also accelerated some of the key structural changes that are driving demand for urban logistics space. The continued expansion of e-commerce is a positive trend for the Trust with customers adapting their business operations to incorporate the growth in online retail.
GMT’s $4.8 billion property portfolio provides essential business infrastructure for these companies, facilitating the efficient storage and distribution of goods and materials.
While the longer-term economic impacts of COVID-19 are uncertain, the majority of the Trust’s customers have adapted to the new normal. New leasing and development enquiries remain steady and, with the portfolio at capacity, GMT’s substantial rental cashflows are contracted well into the future.
This year’s statutory profit of $763.8 million before tax was 17.7% higher than the $648.9 million recorded in FY21. A portfolio revaluation of 16.1% contributed $660.4 million to the profit, compared with $560 million in the previous year.
The increase in value reflects a combination of strong property market fundamentals and increased investor demand for high-quality Auckland industrial assets, particularly in the first six months of FY22.
High occupancy levels, positive leasing results, new development completions and strategic acquisitions have all contributed to a 3.0% increase in operating earnings before tax, to $118.3 million.
With a total return around 8% above its benchmark of listed peers, GMT’s investment performance has resulted in the Manager earning a performance fee this year. The $15.7 million fee is excluded from operating earnings as it is expected to be used to subscribe for new units in the Trust.
Cash distributions totalling 5.50 cents per unit, representing 82.6% of GMT’s cash earnings, have been declared for the year.
Guidance for FY23 includes cash earnings of around 6.9 cents per unit and cash distributions of approximately 5.9 cents per unit, a 7% increase from FY22.
Recognising that the world is changing rapidly, and that today’s economic outlook is more uncertain than 12 months ago, this guidance is subject to there being no material adverse changes in market conditions or other unforeseen events.
A sustainable capital structure, which features low gearing and a diverse range of funding sources, provides GMT with the financial resilience to withstand market disruptions and a more challenging operating environment. The strong liquidity position has also enabled the Trust to secure new investment and development opportunities during the year.
The successful issue of a $200 million six-year wholesale bond in December 2021 and the launch of a Sustainable Finance Framework in March 2022 have strengthened the Trust and added greater financial flexibility.
The first issue of $150 million of five-year green bonds was completed on 14 April 2022, following GMT’s financial year end.
We have also continued to prioritise existing carbon reduction and management projects. These efforts have been reflected in lower emissions and an improved climate score from CDP, the global disclosure system for environmental reporting.
The CDP rating of B and the assurance provided by Toitū carbonzero certification for our business operations show we are making positive and credible progress toward our 2025 emission reduction targets.
Our reporting has also been extended to include voluntary disclosures on embodied carbon within completed development projects. It’s an area of real opportunity with lower carbon materials and building systems being developed to reduce the high level of emissions generated by construction activity.
The purchase of New Zealand and internationally sourced carbon credits to offset both operational and development related emissions reinforces our businesswide commitment to a low carbon future.
GMT has continued to demonstrate that it is a robust and resilient property business, delivering a strong operating performance while adapting to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.
A high-quality portfolio focused on urban logistics has positioned the Trust to benefit from the structural trends that are driving demand for distribution facilities close to consumers.
New capital and investment initiatives, complemented by a greater focus on low-carbon property solutions, have further strengthened the business, and are expected to support sustainable long-term growth.
On behalf of the Board, I sincerely thank our customers and investors for their support and all of the Goodman team for their efforts and contribution over the last 12 months.
Keith Smith – Chair and Independent Director