Eagle Hospitality Trust: What is going on and when is a good time to buy?

16

Note: This is a modified version of the article that first appeared on Patron. If you enjoy reading article like these, do consider signing up as a Patron!

Please note that this article should not be construed as formal investment or financial advice. Please conduct due dilligence and understand your risk appetite before making any investment decisions. If in doubt, always check with your financial advisor or stock broker! 

It’s no surprise that Eagle Hospitality Trust is all the talk of the town these days. This REIT has fallen from its IPO price of 78 cents to a latest closing price of 44 cents (5 Nov 2019). In other words, if you had bought into this REIT at IPO, you’re sitting in excess of a 40% loss, which is almost as bad as HPH Trust (no offence intended).

Based on UOB Kay Hian’s estimates, at its current price (assuming 44 cents), Eagle Hospitality Trust is effectively trading at a 15% forward yield, and a 50% discount to book. And even if Queen Mary is completely wiped out (assuming the value is written down to zero and it contributes nothing to income), Eagle Hospitality Trust is trading at a 11.6% yield and 37% discount to book.

Or in plain English, this REIT is undervalued as hell, at least when evaluated on traditional metrics.

When the market undervalues a stock to this extent, there are only 2 possibilities: (1) the market is completely wrong and Eagle Hospitality Trust is the best buy since DBS in 2008, or (2) the market is absolutely right and there is something seriously wrong with Eagle Hospitality Trust.

Basics: What Happened to Eagle Hospitality Trust

We’ve spilt quite a bit of digital ink on Eagle Hospitality Trust here at Financial Horse, so I won’t cover it in too much detail (you can check out some previous article here or here or on Patron for some background). For a fuller picture, you should also take a look at the company announcements on SGX.

But for the benefit of newer readers, here’s a quick summary of what’s happened thus far:

  • Eagle Hospitality Trust IPO-ed in May 2019 at 78 US cents. It had a poor IPO performance and dropped to low 70s on first day trading.
  • After release of quarterly results that missed the top line but beat on bottom line, the share price continued to slide to the mid 60s.
  • The Edge released an article saying that the Sponsor had received a letter from the state alleging breach of obligations under the head lease for Queen Mary.
  • Eagle Hospitality Trust responded to the allegations to refute claims that it was in danger of losing Queen Mary. It also clarified that the Sponsor was responsible for any repairs to Queen Mary. In fact in the prospectus of Eagle Hospitality Trust it’s also disclosed that if the head lease is terminated due to actions from the Sponsor, Eagle Hospitality Trust is entitled to a termination fee from the Sponsor equivalent to the “fair market value” of the Queen Mary lease. If accepted at face value, these would prima facie greatly alleviate the impact of the Queen Mary allegations.
  • BT published an article stating that the vendor who sold assets to the Sponsor that were injected into the IPO also took up a big stake in the IPO placement.
  • Eagle Hospitality Trust issues a response to clarify the nature of the relationship with the vendor.
  • Pursuant to SGX queries, Eagle Hospitality Trust releases further information on the relationship with the vendor.
  • The media reports that insiders and substantial shareholders have been divesting positions in Eagle Hospitality Trust (this is also reported under the required SFA disclosures on SGX).

And for the record, here is the share price chart. So yeah.. this has been one eventful REIT.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Capture-2.png

Queen Mary

Heartland Boy has an interesting writeup on Queen Mary where he basically argues that the Queen Mary saga is overblown and that the impact to Eagle Hospitality Trust is not likely to be significant.

Based on the announcements from Eagle Hospitality Trust on SGX so far, I’m actually inclined to agree with him on this.

I think the risk of Queen Mary being completely written off is low, but of course non-zero. But when the market is pricing Eagle Hospitality Trust at a 11.6% yield and 37% discount to book assuming Queen Mary is written down to zero, there clearly is something deeper going on here.

Related Party Transactions

The related party transactions that are being talked about, are equally interesting.

Personally for me, I don’t think any of the disclosures on related party transactions to date are so fatal that would warrant Eagle Hospitality Trust trading at its current price.

But the problem with this kind of issues, is that we don’t know what we don’t know.

Warren Buffet summarises it much better than me when he says “first you see a cockroach in the kitchen, in the weeks that go by, you start to see its cousins”.

So if you told me that everything that has been disclosed about Eagle Hospitality Trust so far is the end of it, and no more funky news is on its way, I would probably say that this is a great investment now.

But the problem is that I don’t know what new allegations may be on its way. Perhaps the next bit of news is going to be even more “interesting”. If so, now’s probably not the right time to buy.

Insider Sales

The other bit of the puzzle is the fact that insiders and substantial shareholders have been selling their positions in Eagle Hospitality Trust.

There’s 2 ways of reading this.

The first, is that insiders are just trying to exit their position. Perhaps they have been margin called, or perhaps they need the liquidity urgently for some reason. So they’re liquidating for personal reasons completely unrelated to this REIT. 

If this is true, then Eagle Hospitality Trust might be a great buy.

The second interpretation, is that the insiders know something we don’t. This is the scary interpretation. After all, from a public investor’s point of view, it’s been a sequence of new revelations coming one after the other. Who knows what’s coming next?

Under this interpretation, the true value of Eagle Hospitality Trust is unknown, and it’s too risky to buy until more information comes to light.

Without any inside knowledge, it’s hard to know which interpretation is true, and there’s no point guessing.

Liquidity

Don’t forget that in the bigger scheme of things, trading liquidity for the REIT is quite thin. Trading volume today (5 Nov 2019) was 17 million units, which is really only about 7.6 million USD. So the big price swings are made on very thin liquidity, and may not be reflecting underlying value here.

Technical damage

It’s interesting though, just how much Eagle Hospitality Trust has fallen. From its 0.66 price just a week or two ago, it’s fallen a whopping 33%. 

And when REITs (or stocks) fall this much in such a short time, they almost never recover immediately.

Or in Technical Analysis speak, there’s been too much technical damage done here.

So if I’m looking to buy in, I think there’s probably some time to think through it and allow more information to surface. Sure, perhaps I miss out on a 10 to 15% rally in the interim, but it’s better than adding now only to find out there’s more undisclosed information to be released.

What is my take on Eagle Hospitality Trust?

There’s a lot of questions in my mind about Eagle Hospitality Trust. And investing is like crime-solving sometimes, where the hardest part is knowing what questions to ask.

And the key question here for me, is where is all this new information on Eagle Hospitality Trust coming from? Let’s think about what information has been disclosed so far? The first bit of information was details of the letter from the City to the Sponsor. The next was the information on the vendor taking up a position in the IPO placement, and the sale being conditional on the IPO. Then it was the related party transactions that took place prior to IPO, including information on the valuations done in the preceding years.

Perhaps the Edge and Business Times have become fantastic investigative journalists and dug up this information through extensive due diligence. Or perhaps someone with inside knowledge has been feeding it to them.

Whatever the case, I don’t know where this information is coming from, and what is the purpose behind this information.

Closing Thoughts

There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty around Eagle Hospitality Trust. I’m seeing most dip buyers buy in at the 50s range, and in the 40s range retail investors are starting to comment this is too risky for them and that they’re staying away. That’s usually a contrarian signal that it’s the time to start buying.

But the flow of information here is concerning. The past few weeks have been a situation where an article appears in the media, and then SGX queries the REIT, and the REIT issues an SGX announcement. And rise and repeat. That’s not fun as an investor.

Investing has made Financial Horse a paranoid horse, and there’s nothing I hate more than not knowing what I don’t know.

I’ll want this process of new disclosures to stop at least for a while, and all immediate unknown information on Eagle Hospitality Trust to get flushed out, before I start averaging in (if at all).

So I’m probably going to be on the sidelines for a week or two, at least until things quiet down. The earnings report could be a nice boost as well, just for everyone to calm down.

Do note however, that I may not be updating the information (or my future decision making) in this article going forward, so please do the necessary due diligence before deciding whether to invest in Eagle Hospitality Trust. New information may come to light in the coming weeks that renders this article wholly inaccurate. 

Is Eagle Hospitality Trust a good value investment at it’s current price? Share your comments below!


Looking for a comprehensive guide to investing? Check out the FH Complete Guide to Investing for Singapore investors.

Support the site as a Patron and get market and stock watch updates. Big shoutout to all Patrons for their support!

Like the Financial Horse Facebook Page and join the Facebook Group (Singapore) or Facebook Group (China) to continue the discussion!

16 COMMENTS

  1. i’ve been watching EHT for a while as well – although I have yet to buy in – and you’re right that everything seems pretty concerning, particularly the fact that it seems like there is an insider leaking information. i don’t for a second believe that either publication you mentioned above suddenly gained a taste for thorough investigative journalism.

    one big thing that does stop me from wanting to buy in (even if the leaking were to stop) is the fact that EHT is a hospitality trust, and i recall a DBS REIT video which talks about how hospitality is a sector likely to be greatly hit during the upcoming recession. do you still think it’s that good a buy in light of that?

    • Well markets are cyclical, so there will always be a recession eventually, the question is when will the recession come? During a recession EHT will definitely be hit, but a large portion ~60% of revenue is fixed, so that may alleviate some of the pain.

      But yeah, there’s no denying that if there is a recession, hospitality plays like this will suffer. The only question is how much.

  2. The big question is why are those six ASAP6 properties sold to EHT at more than Double the price just 2.5 yrs ago? Granted they explained the cheap price was 2.5 yrs ago and they have done some “upgrades”. I dont buy the explanations. Property price more than double in just 2.5 yrs? Where has this happened before? The costs of those upgrades were only about $10M+, but EHT paid $100M more for those properties. Dont make sense to me at all.
    Market is also suspecting the rest of the porperties were also bought at groasly over valued prices. So the whole portfolio need to be examine cllosely. Is there a possibility of fraud?
    Experienced investors know that most of the time, market is right and dont try to argue with her. You may want to read AK’s blog.

    • Well, the REIT did respond on this point via an SGX announcement to refute the claims, so ultimately it’s going to be down to a case of he said she said. Without inside knowledge, it will be hard to comment on who is correct. BUt yeah, I agree that there’s too much uncertainty around this REIT right now, so I’ll be letting this play out a bit more.

  3. My 2 cents…

    1) Talk about over-valuation of the 6 hotels ASAP sold to UC. Even if you assume the price was inflated by 100%, it would ONLY amount to US$150. If you take that amount off the NAV, it will reduce the NAV from $0.89 to US$0.72/unit.

    Whereas, the ignorant uncles and aunties sitting around in stockbroker’s lobby and the keyboard warriors in ShareJuntion will tell you all 18 hotels are over-valued and that SGX should delist EHT and MAS should immediately launch an investigation on fraud.

    And people actually believe that horse manure!!??!!

    2) The hotels are sufficiently diversified in location and earnings and their customers are largely domestic business travellers not really affected by airbnb. US domestic economy is humming along and unemployment rate has been fairly low. So, will we see a large drop in earnings from ALL the 18 hotels? I doubt it. A drop of 5% or 10% in a particular hotel during a particular quarter is grounds for 30% discount on the valuation? I don’t think so.

    3) People talk about insider selling their shares. If you say they have “inside knowledge” about the “earnings” and therefore selling their shares ahead of earnings report, HOW MUCH do they really know?? Does that mean they have detailed up to date financial reports from all the hotel’s FC and the CFO of the REIT? How do they get their hands on the reports? You see this is where danger of market rumours muddy the water. Most of the commentators have a little bit of public information and they ADD a lot of ridiculous speculation.

    The Yuans could simply be reducing their stake for any reason. Who cares? How is that relevant to the valuation? Equally important is the fact that they are reducing and not disposing completely their entire stake in EHT. What about the buyers of their shares? If there’s no merit in the valuation, why would they buy at $0.55 or even $0.455?

    4) As for QM, it has a lease of 66 years and the hidden jewel is the land that can be developed around the area. Yes, their plans are delayed because of all the permits that they need to get. Again, so what? How does that affect QM actual earnings at the moment?

    They have 66 years!! Most people don’t even live that long. In the meantime, QM is earning $66m/year. The talk about EHT having to write off the entire $140m investment is pure nonsense. You honestly think the Long Beach City Council will let QM sink to the sea? Again a lot of nonsense about write offs.

    5) In my valuation, I have taken off $150m from ASAP’s hotels and another $50m from QM out of the NAV. The fair value of EHT for me is US$0.66/unit with 10.3% yield. At current price of $0.465 the yield is close to 14%. I’m vested below $0.60 and this will be a profitable trade.

    6) The Edge and BT are doing great due diligence? Please tell me you are not serious.

  4. good luck to you, go and read many long reports and analysis in Sharejunction by ASSI, Heartlandboy, and FinancialHorse……it is good to know more, anyway that is your money, and you decide for yourself

  5. Hi FinancialHorse, thanks for your honesty and informed us you have cut loss at $0.475…I will support your blog because you are honest and open…Thanks again for you efforts so far

    • Haha just a clarification, I have not cut loss at $0.475. I am just holding on to my position at this stage to see if I should sell or average in. But I am not taking any action yet until I have more information. 🙂

  6. @ Rick
    ASSI? You believe everything he says? Suffice to say that guy does not impress me.

    I was an analyst and later sales trading for 20 years in my younger days. I can even say I’ve sat across Repco Low one-on-one in his home office during those crazy times in the 90’s. You’d be surprised what I’ve seen and “not done, wink wink”. (P.S. The feeling of moving a stock up and down as you wish singlehandedly is better than cocaine)

    And you are correct in saying that it is MY money. My personal investment horizon is 10-15 years; as long as the “fundamentals” are right and the risks are acceptable in my opinion, it doesn’t really matter what happens from Q2Q. Others may not see it that way and that’s fine.

    Day or short term traders are a dime a dozen. Most of them don’t last more than 10 years. Talk is cheap. I’m willing to bet only a few of these traders (including those “highly regarded” experts prancing around in dark shades) can produce a full P/L backed with contract notes and monthly statements to show that they can consistently beat the market in large margin year in year out.

    My beef is not with the concept of short term trading. Neither am I against trading based on rumours and speculations (it’s pure gambling). My beef is with 1) treating market rumours, speculation, and worst, half-truths as facts, 2) lazy and sloppy analysis after extrapolating some half-truths and then treat it as a basis for buy/sell calls.

    Especially for small retail investors, the market should be treated as a beast with very sharp teeth. It’s sad that some of these small investors listen to these so-called expert and end up losing their shirts in the rumour mill.

Leave a Reply