Charter Hall Social Infrastructure REIT (CQE) has posted a 25% year-on-year growth in statutory profit, which stood at $85.9 million in the FY2020, despite the challenges across the childcare sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CQE’s fund manager, Travis Butcher, said that although the COVID-19 pandemic generated significant challenges for the childcare sector, it was helped by the government support which put it on par with other essential services sectors.
“Our focus has been to strengthen CQE’s balance sheet with gearing reduced to 16.4% whilst focussing on improving the overall WALE (weighted average lease expiry) of the portfolio,” he said.
“CQE is well capitalised to manage the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to take advantage of any attractive long WALE social infrastructure opportunities that may arise in the future.”
In March 2020, CQE increased its debt facilities to $500 million, which according to the company, provided undrawn capacity of $214.0 million to fully fund contracted existing property acquisitions and development pipeline.
Following an institutional placement of $100 million in May 2020, the gearing had been reduced to 16.4%. At the same time, the distribution of 16 cents per unit remained unchanged on previous corresponding period.
As far as the future outlook for QBE was concerned, the firm said it expected that the government funding was transitioning back to pre-COVID funding regime.
“CQE confirms that based on information currently available (including with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic), continued tenant performance and barring any unforeseen events, the FY21 forecast distribution guidance is estimated to be 15 cpu,” the firm said.
“As part of this strategy, CQE will pursue new opportunities in social infrastructure to enhance income sustainability and resilience.”