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Is Now the Time to Buy Hammerson?

By Rupert Hargreaves - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:38PM

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Should you buy Hammerson today?

LONDON -- I'm always searching for shares that can help ordinary investors like you make money from the stock market.

So right now I am trawling through the FTSE 100 and giving my verdict on every member of the blue-chip index. Simply put, I'm hoping to pinpoint the very best buying opportunities in today's uncertain market.

Today I am looking at Hammerson (HMSO 2.05%) to determine whether you should consider buying the shares at 512 pence.

I am assessing each company on several ratios:

Price-to-earnings (P/E): Does the share look good value when compared against its competitors?

Price-to-earnings growth (PEG): Does the share look good value factoring in predicted growth?

Yield: Does the share provide a solid income for investors?

Dividend cover: Is the dividend sustainable?

Let's look at the numbers:

StockPrice3-Yr. EPS GrowthProjected P/EPEGYield3-Yr. Dividend GrowthDividend Cover
Hammerson 512p -37% 23.6 5.9 3.4% 11% 1.2

The consensus analyst estimate for this year's earnings per share is 21.7 pence (4% growth) and dividend per share is 18.6 pence (5% growth).

Trading on a projected P/E of 23.6, Hammerson appears cheaper than its peers in the real-estate investment trust sector, which are currently trading on an average P/E of around 26.4.

Offering a 3.4% yield, Hammerson's dividend income is slightly less than the sector average of 3.7%. Furthermore, Hammerson has a three-year compounded dividend growth rate of 11%, implying the yield will continue to underperform that of its peers.

In addition to the company's low dividend growth, Hammerson has a low dividend cover of just over one. However, I believe this is not a significant issue as Hammerson is a real-estate investment trust (REIT), which means the company has to pay out 90% of its earnings in order to maintain the preferential tax treatment given to REITs.

Finally, Hammerson's share price is currently 5.9% below the company's net asset value of 542 pence per share at the end of 2012.

So, is now the time to buy Hammerson?
2012 was a transformational year for Hammerson, the company completely restructured its property portfolio, selling off its office space and focusing on high-quality retail assets, such as shopping centres, retail parks and designer outlets.

Unfortunately, this worries me as now the company has no diversification within its property portfolio, leaving Hammerson exposed to the fragile retail environment both within the U.K. and France -- where the company also has some retail premises.

That said, as of yet, it would appear that Hammerson has not been affected by the weak retail environment, indeed, at the end of 2012, 98% of its retail properties were occupied by tenants.

Furthermore, Hammerson is currently undertaking a 'cost containment' program achieving administration cost savings of 7%, and financing cost savings of 11% during 2012, which should boost shareholder returns.

Having said that, Hammerson still offers a lower than average dividend yield and the company remains exposed to the fragile retail environment, so overall, I believe now does not look to be a good time to buy Hammerson at 512 pence.

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Although I feel now may not be the time to buy Hammerson, I am more positive on the five FTSE shares highlighted within this this exclusive wealth report.

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In the meantime, please stay tuned for my next verdict on a FTSE 100 share.

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Hammerson plc
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