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Statement by Philip Lowe, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision, June 2019

Date: Jun 04th, 2019

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.25 per cent. The Board took this decision to support employment growth and provide greater confidence that inflation will be consistent with the medium-term target.

The outlook for the global economy remains reasonable, although the downside risks stemming from the trade disputes have increased. Growth in international trade remains weak and the increased uncertainty is affecting investment intentions in a number of countries. In China, the authorities have taken steps to support the economy, while addressing risks in the financial system. In most advanced economies, inflation remains subdued, unemployment rates are low and wages growth has picked up.

Global financial conditions remain accommodative. Long-term bond yields and risk premiums are low. In Australia, long-term bond yields are at historically low levels. Bank funding costs have also declined further, with money-market spreads having fully reversed the increases that took place last year. The Australian dollar has depreciated a little over the past few months and is at the low end of its narrow range of recent times.

The central scenario remains for the Australian economy to grow by around 2¾ per cent in 2019 and 2020. This outlook is supported by increased investment in infrastructure and a pick-up in activity in the resources sector, partly in response to an increase in the prices of Australia’s exports. The main domestic uncertainty continues to be the outlook for household consumption, which is being affected by a protracted period of low income growth and declining housing prices. Some pick-up in growth in household disposable income is expected and this should support consumption.

Employment growth has been strong over the past year, labour force participation has been increasing, the vacancy rate remains high and there are reports of skills shortages in some areas. Despite these developments, there has been little further inroads into the spare capacity in the labour market of late. The unemployment rate had been steady at around 5 per cent for some months, but ticked up to 5.2 per cent in April. The strong employment growth over the past year or so has led to a pick-up in wages growth in the private sector, although overall wages growth remains low. A further gradual lift in wages growth is expected and this would be a welcome development. Taken together, these labour market outcomes suggest that the Australian economy can sustain a lower rate of unemployment.

The recent inflation outcomes have been lower than expected and suggest subdued inflationary pressures across much of the economy. Inflation is still however anticipated to pick up, and will be boosted in the June quarter by increases in petrol prices. The central scenario remains for underlying inflation to be 1¾ per cent this year, 2 per cent in 2020 and a little higher after that.

The adjustment in established housing markets is continuing, after the earlier large run-up in prices in some cities. Conditions remain soft, although in some markets the rate of price decline has slowed and auction clearance rates have increased. Growth in housing credit has also stabilised recently. Credit conditions have been tightened and the demand for credit by investors has been subdued for some time. Mortgage rates remain low and there is strong competition for borrowers of high credit quality.

Today’s decision to lower the cash rate will help make further inroads into the spare capacity in the economy. It will assist with faster progress in reducing unemployment and achieve more assured progress towards the inflation target. The Board will continue to monitor developments in the labour market closely and adjust monetary policy to support sustainable growth in the economy and the achievement of the inflation target over time.

Source: Reserve Bank of Australia, June 4th, 2019

Enquiries

Media and Communications
Secretary’s Department
Reserve Bank of Australia
SYDNEY

Phone: +61 2 9551 9720
Fax: +61 2 9551 8033

Email: rbainfo@rba.gov.au

Opportunities in global listed property: US manufactured housing

Date: May 20th, 2019

Manufactured housing is a very resilient asset class – as showcased by the largest US operator Equity LifeStyle Properties growing its net operating income every single quarter going back to the late 1990s, including during the global financial crisis1, and today the investment proposition is even more attractive.

Shipments of new manufactured houses have grown by 60 per cent over the past five years, and prices rose sharply through the first three quarters of 2018 whilst prices for site-built homes remained stagnant2.

Affordability is a key factor in this resurgence. Ten years ago, 75 per cent of American houses sold for less than US$300,000. Today less than half of sales fall under that benchmark3. In contrast, the average price for a new manufactured home is less than US$80,0004. This is especially attractive to so-called ‘snowbirds’ looking to migrate from Canada and the northern states and relocate to warmer climates, a phenomenon that is accelerating as the population ages.

And as baby boomers continue to retire over the next twenty years, the manufactured housing market that focuses on age-restricted parks is set for unprecedented strong demand.

Recent developments in the financing of manufactured homes have the potential to drive this growth even further. Traditionally, borrowing for manufactured housing has been considerably more difficult and expensive than for site-built homes, with buyers forced to take chattel loans rather than mortgages to fund their purchases. The widely-held presumption was that these assets would depreciate, rather than appreciate in value.

Source: United States Census Bureau, July 2018; United States Census Bureau, December 2017. Charts: Sun Communities, November 2018.

However, continually improving offerings from manufacturers and a change in policy direction by the US Government have turned that model on its head. In December 2016, the Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA) issued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a “duty to serve under-served markets”, including manufactured housing, and the two government-sponsored mortgage buyers have begun to expand their reach into the manufactured housing market, driving down interest rates for borrowers. At the same time, new analysis of repeat-transaction prices by the FHFA indicates that manufactured housing may actually appreciate in a similar manner to site-built homes5.

While demand for shipments remains high, so too will demand for land and facilities to accommodate them. REITs with assets concentrated in residential parks, like the AMP Capital Global Property Securities Fund, which is an active ETF trading on the Australian Stock Exchange, gain from exposure to market upside with low overheads, such as maintenance and customer turnover, compared to traditional property assets. In addition, the reluctance of local authorities to approve new residential park developments (only ten were approved nation-wide in the US in 2017) means that constrained supply is likely to preserve or increase the value of these investments for some time to come.

With options like vaulted ceilings, walk-in wardrobes and built-in fireplaces widespread across the industry, manufactured homes have well and truly shed any lingering association with the trailer park and have become a solid option for first home buyers and retirees alike. There’s a reason Warren Buffet has a large stake in the sector and why the legendary real estate investor Sam Zell continues to promote the view that this truly is an institutional real estate sector – put it down as one to watch over the next few years.

Source : AMP CAPITAL May 2109 

1 Equity LifeStyle Properties, Investor relations presentation, February 2019.
2 United States Census Bureau, Manufactured Housing Survey Data, February 2019.
3 United States Census Bureau, New Residential Sales
4 United States Census Bureau, Average sales price of new manufactures homes, June 2018.
5 Federal Housing Finance Agency, House Price Index, August 2018.

Important notes

This advertisement has been prepared by AMP Capital Investors Ltd (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) (“AMP Capital”). BetaShares Capital Ltd (ACN 139 566 868, AFSL 341181 (“BetaShares”) is the responsible entity and the issuer of units in the AMP CAPITAL GLOBAL PROPERTY SECURITIES FUND (UNHEDGED) (MANAGED FUND), (each a “Fund”). AMP Capital is the investment manager of the Funds and has been appointed by the responsible entity to provide investment management and associated services in respect of the Funds. Investors should consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for the relevant Fund before making any decision regarding the Fund. The PDS contains important information about investing in each Fund and it is important investors read the PDS before making a decision about whether to acquire, continue to hold or dispose of units in the Funds. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Neither BetaShares, AMP Capital, nor any other company in the AMP Group guarantees the repayment of capital or the performance of any product or any particular rate of return referred to in this information. This information has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Investors should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of this information, and seek professional advice, having regard to their objectives, financial situation and needs.

 

Listed infrastructure goes mainstream

Date: May 20th, 2019

Listed infrastructure is an asset class that just a decade ago was poorly understood by many investors. It is now a diverse $3 trillion investment opportunity1. More and more investors are allocating to the asset class due to the differentiated return/risk characteristics we believe it offers. As infrastructure assets often have their profits guaranteed by long-term contracts or regulation, returns tend to be relatively predictable over the long term. For investors, this provides extremely good visibility for cash flows and ultimately, dividends.

Long-term infrastructure investors should appreciate that the majority of short-term returns are driven by multiple expansion and contraction, but over the long term this has little impact. As seen in the chart below, profit growth for infrastructure companies has been consistently positive year on year. Years with negative total return have primarily been driven by multiple compression, despite positive profit growth.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Source: AMP Capital, Bloomberg as at 31 December 2018. Data frequency: quarterly. Data based on the AMP Capital’s Global Listed Infrastructure universe.

However, over the long term, the multiples effect has been neutral. We believe cash flow growth is ultimately what drives returns. This is why our investment process has a stringent focus on cash flows, compared to the more generalist investor, and short-term volatility creates opportunities for us to generate alpha for our clients.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Source: AMP Capital, Bloomberg as at 31 December 2018. Data frequency: quarterly. Data based on the AMP Capital’s Global Listed Infrastructure universe.

By investing in listed infrastructure, investors can access a broad set of liquid investment opportunities across geographies and sectors. However, not all infrastructure is the same. At AMP Capital, we have a strict focus on long-term cashflow stability and filter the broader infrastructure universe for the following characteristics.

Characteristics we look for

Unfavourable characteristics

  • Monopolistic characteristics

  • High barriers to entry

  • Highly regulated

  • Long-term guaranteed contracts

  • Mature assets

  • Inflation protection

  • Competitive industries

  • Low barriers to entry

  • Short-term/ no contracts

  • Low visibility

  • Greenfield developments

  • Cyclical industries

As a result, we believe that most of the infrastructure opportunities lies outside of Australia, which only holds approximately two percent of the global share. North America accounts for more than half of all infrastructure assets, with a third in Europe and the remaining located in Asia Pacific and Latin America. We also categorise these assets in four main sectors: energy infrastructure, utilities, transportation and communications.

Regulatory frameworks and contract structures vary greatly from sector to sector and from region to region, as they are based on and exposed to macro variables in different ways. This highlights the importance of diversification to help mitigate risks in concentrated exposure to regional economic downturns and regulations.

The quality of core infrastructure assets on the listed market is high and there are sectors where listed companies lead private companies in terms of operational excellence. In many instances, assets are co-owned by listed infrastructure companies and direct investors. Listed infrastructure is generally considered alongside unlisted funds or buying directly into assets. Each has it benefits and drawbacks, as the table below shows.

 

Listed Manager

Unlisted Fund

Direct Asset

Geographic diversity

Very high

Low/medium

Low

Asset diversity

Very high

Low/medium

Low

Liquidity

Very high

Low

Low

Daily valuations

Yes

No

No

Control

Low

Low to very high

Very high

Volatility of valuation

High

Very low

Very low

Transaction cost

Low

High

High

Portfolio turnover

High

Low

Low

Investment horizon

Medium (~5 years)

Long term (~10 years)

Long term (~10 years)


Notably the liquidity of listed infrastructure makes it accessible to a wider range of investors than the direct approach. We believe that returns between listed and unlisted assets are very similar over a full market cycle as ultimately the underlying asset, rather than the capital structure, determines returns.

Additionally, as demand for infrastructure assets have grown exponentially, we have also seen a corresponding spike in undeployed capital within unlisted infrastructure funds. While the capital flowing into the sector enables many new projects, competition for high quality assets will be fiercer and valuations will rise. Therefore, it is only natural that listed companies with access to high quality infrastructure assets and trading at attractive valuations to become potential targets for unlisted infrastructure funds under pressure to put capital to work.

These dynamics, alongside the growing numbers of investors awakening to the attractiveness of the listed infrastructure, mean that positive supply/demand drivers should add support to the strong fundamentals of high-quality infrastructure businesses.

Please contct us on |PHONE| if you would like to discuss.

1 Total market capitalisation of the AMP Capital Global Listed Infrastructure Universe of over 250 stocks.

Author : Giuseppe Corona, Head of Global Listed Infrastructure, London, United Kingdom

Source : AMP Capital

 

Important notes
While every care has been taken in the preparation of this document, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) (AMP Capital) makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This document has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs.

 

Australia continues to deliver for real estate investors

Date: May 20th, 2019

Despite falling business and consumer confidence since the start of the year, the Australian economy remains in positive territory and moderating economic conditions notwithstanding, commercial real estate assets should continue to perform this year and into the future, buoyed by strong underlying fundamentals.

On a state-by-state basis, economic growth is no longer confined to the service-led economies of Melbourne and Sydney. Recovery is now beginning in the mining states, with Brisbane entering a sustained period of recovery, although economic growth in Perth remains low. This dynamic should now start to flow through to real estate assets.

Different strokes for different states

The new economy states of Victoria and New South Wales are being powered by high-value services and migration-driven population growth. This will continue to underscore demand for office and logistics real estate.

It’s early days for Queensland and Western Australia’s economic recovery. But the office and retail sectors should benefit as the economic backdrop improves, with industrial real estate assets already enjoying the uptick in mining export volumes, which is creating renewed demand for storage and transport space.

However, lack of supply is driving investors to alternative real estate assets. For instance, more investors are interested in real estate debt. The move by investors up the risk curve into alternative assets suggests we are in a new cycle, one in which markets are more focused on how assets perform versus capital inflows.

Technology a game-changer

New business models, for instance the rise of flexible working, have challenged the way real estate is valued and managed. In this environment, owners of older assets must consider how they may need to be repositioned in light of trends such as co-working and omni-channel marketing shaping the way businesses use offices and other commercial buildings.

The average Australian office asset is 30 years’ old, and buildings constructed in the 1990s were not designed to support flexible working spaces and wellbeing initiatives, which place new demands on buildings. Next-generation assets, which are designed for more agile use, will provide new opportunities for investors in the medium-to-long term.

Economic conditions suggest sufficient demand to support the increasing pipeline of developments – particularly in the office and industrial sectors. However, there are risks to retail assets, especially those with limited scope for redevelopment and centres in secondary locations. Based on our analysis of markets such as the US, successful retail performance in a period of increased competition rests on providing customer value through experience and convenience.

The short-to-medium term outlook for total returns will favour assets that can generate strong income returns, which are less reliant on capital expenditure and are attuned to changing trends in technology, demographics and urbanisation.

Markets showing income growth potential

Growth cycles typically favour core markets, but these rules don’t necessarily apply during times of technological disruption and global economic transition. As such, the definition of what constitutes a core asset will need to change to take a more inclusive view on flexibility, amenity and technology infrastructure, as tenants’ needs evolve.

Online retailing is generating significant upside for the industrial sector, which is seeing heightened investor interest from long-term, institutional investors. 
In tandem, retail tenants that have been associated with Australia’s highly stabilised retail sector in non-discretionary categories such as fresh food are now shifting more of their sales online via distribution centres, creating the potential for long term, stable, recession-proof cash flows for investors. This follows a similar trend in the US and Europe, where online spending is more than double the Australian spending rate.

Office assets are benefitting from strong demand from the technology sector, as these businesses increase their workforce and as international entrants look for locations in Australia and landlords can expect attractive conditions in the local commercial real estate sector for some time to come.

Source : AMP CAPITAL May 2019

Important notes

While every care has been taken in the preparation of this article, AMP Capital Investors Limited (ABN 59 001 777 591, AFSL 232497) and AMP Capital Funds Management Limited (ABN 15 159 557 721, AFSL 426455)  (AMP Capital) makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of any statement in it including, without limitation, any forecasts. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. This article has been prepared for the purpose of providing general information, without taking account of any particular investor’s objectives, financial situation or needs. An investor should, before making any investment decisions, consider the appropriateness of the information in this article, and seek professional advice, having regard to the investor’s objectives, financial situation and needs. This article is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided and must not be provided to any other person or entity without the express written consent of AMP Capital.

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