// Unibail-Rodamco lowers 2019 guidance after Westfield failed to meet 2018 targets
// Shares in Westfield tumbled 10% as a result
// Global net rental income surged 32% & like-for-like rental income was up 4%
// Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s first annual report since it acquired Westfield last year
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has lowered its guidance for 2019 after earnings from its newly-acquired Westfield portfolio proved to be underwhelming.
Shares in the shopping centre giant tumbled after it indicated that its 2019 earnings per share guidance was €11.80-€12 (£10.38-£10.55).
This was eight per cent below the €12.92 (£11.36) earnings per share it recorded for the year ending December 31, 2018.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield mainly trades on the Paris and Amsterdam stock markets, but has a secondary listing in Australia, where shares plunged 10 per cent after it released its full-year report.
The company acquired the US and European arm of Westfield from its Australian owners in June last year in a deal valued at £18.5 billion.
However, it conceded that has faced a weaker than anticipated contribution from its Westfield shopping centres in both the UK and the US due to tougher than expected retail conditions.
It also attributed its lowered guidance higher financial expenses and taxes, as well as delays in projects which had affected the timing of income.
Despite this, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield said strong underlying operating income growth between four per cent and five per cent in 2019 should offset this.
It also said that over the next two years, it would sell almost €4 billion worth of European assets.
Meanwhile, the retail property behemoth reported a 32 per cent uptick in global net rental income to €2.16 billion (£1.89 billion) for 2018.
This was boosted by a 36.9 per cent increase in net incomes from shopping centres to €1.91 billion (£1.67 billion).
Like-for-like rental incomes also grew by four per cent globally.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield added that the total valuation of its global portfolio now stood at €65.2 billion (£57.36 billion).
“2018 was a historic year, marked by the creation on June 7 of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the premier global developer and operator of Flagship shopping destinations,” chief executive Christophe Cuvillier said.
He added: “In addition to closing the transaction and embarking on the integration of the two platforms, URW delivered excellent results against a challenging industry backdrop.”
The current set of full-year results are the first since Unibail-Rodamco merged with Westfield last year.
It also follows reports this week that the construction of London’s third Westfield complex in Croydon is unlikely to start this year, despite promises work would start in September.
Westfield’s Australian and New Zealand centres have been run independently by the Scentre Group since 2014.