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RAM Ratings reaffirms Dar Al-Arkan’s A3/P2 ratings, revises outlook to stable

Published on 15 Jan 2021.

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RAM Ratings has reaffirmed Saudi-based Dar Al-Arkan Real Estate Development Company’s (the Group) respective long- and short-term corporate credit ratings at A3 and P2. Concurrently, the outlook on the long-term rating has been revised to stable from positive.  

The revised outlook is attributable to the Group’s weaker-than-expected financial performance and debt coverage amid the economic and property market slumps in Saudi Arabia, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and plunging oil prices. Heavier debt obligations since the last review have also eroded its debt coverage metrics. That said, the ratings remain supported by Dar Al-Arkan’s solid business fundamentals and strong liquidity position. 

Notably, the recovery of the Saudi property market in 2019 had been short-lived as the pandemic, challenging economic conditions and heftier value-added tax (VAT) in 3Q 2020 had severely curtailed transactions in 2020. This had led to a 45% drop in Dar Al-Arkan’s revenue in 9M FY Dec 2020. Its funds from operations (FFO) consequently retreated 17% y-o-y. Meanwhile, land bank replenishment and pre-emptive liquidity management had pushed the Group’s debt level up to SR10.5 bil as at end-September 2020 (end-December 2019: SR7.9 bil), with a weaker FFO net debt coverage of 0.14 times (end-December 2019: 0.19 times). Given the near-term market challenges, we expect this metric to hover around 0.10 times over the next two years under our stressed case.

Despite its thinner debt coverage, Dar Al-Arkan’s balance sheet is still deemed healthy. As at end-September 2020, its net gearing ratio stood at 0.24 times while its liquidity stayed strong. The Group’s cash reserves amounted to SR5.8 bil, amply covering its SR2.9 bil of debts maturing over the next two years. The Group also derives financial flexibility from its sizeable unencumbered land holdings and leasing assets.

Dar Al-Arkan’s ratings are also supported by its position as the largest real estate developer in Saudi Arabia, complemented by its established track record and impressive land bank. Moreover, the Saudi property sector enjoys bright longer-term prospects, supported by its young demographics and the government’s commitment to promoting home ownership. 

On the other hand, the said positives are moderated by the volatility of the Group’s land sales and margins, increasing execution risk, and exposure to market cyclicality as well as political instability in the Middle East. 

 

Analytical contact
Desmond Lau
(603) 3385 2523
desmond@ram.com.my

Media contact
Padthma Subbiah
(603) 3385 2577
padthma@ram.com.my

 

The credit rating is not a recommendation to purchase, sell or hold a security, inasmuch as it does not comment on the security’s market price or its suitability for a particular investor, nor does it involve any audit by RAM Ratings. The credit rating also does not reflect the legality and enforceability of financial obligations.

RAM Ratings receives compensation for its rating services, normally paid by the issuers of such securities or the rated entity, and sometimes third parties participating in marketing the securities, insurers, guarantors, other obligors, underwriters, etc. The receipt of this compensation has no influence on RAM Ratings’ credit opinions or other analytical processes. In all instances, RAM Ratings is committed to preserving the objectivity, integrity and independence of its ratings. Rating fees are communicated to clients prior to the issuance of rating opinions. While RAM Ratings reserves the right to disseminate the ratings, it receives no payment for doing so, except for subscriptions to its publications.

Similarly, the disclaimers above also apply to RAM Ratings’ credit-related analyses and commentaries, where relevant.

Published by RAM Rating Services Berhad
© Copyright 2021 by RAM Rating Services Berhad



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