British Land (LSE: BLND) is offering up some mighty dividend yields for 2020. At 5%+, this figure pips the broader FTSE 100 average of 4.8% by a nose too. But it’s not a share that I’m prepared to touch with a bargepole.
Recent Springboard figures on pre-Christmas shopper activity continue to be subdued, quashing hopes of a renaissance in spending levels now that the threat of a no-deal Brexit in January has been removed. And this bodes ill for owners of retail property like British Land, firms that have seen profits sink as the number of retailers going under has spiked. Incidentally, according to insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor the number of retailers facing significant financial distress has continued to balloon in the fourth quarter and now stands at a whopping 27,000.
Dividends to disappoint?
City analysts expect annual earnings at the Footsie firm to fall again in the period to March 2020, this time by 6%. And whilst they expect the bottom line to rebound 4% in fiscal 2021, the risks to this projection being blown off course are clearly colossal.
So forget about British Land’s big dividend yields of 5.1% for this year and 5.3% for next year, I say. A murky growth outlook and rising debt pile — adjusted net debt rose more than £160m in the six months to September, to £3.7bn — put in doubt City hopes of additional dividend growth through the next couple of years. And particularly so as predicted dividends are hardly covered by expected earnings over the next couple of years too.
Following a rocketing share price (up 32% in the past four months), British Land trades on a forward P/E rating of 19 times, a reading way above the Footsie average of 14.5 times and one that fails to adequately reflect its high risk profile, in my opinion. This is a share that’s in danger of a whopping correction and one that should therefore be avoided at all costs.
A golden pick
A better use for your money as we move into 2020 would be to buy into Highland Gold Mining (LSE: HGM), I believe.
Share markets might be little changed in pre-Christmas business, but gold continues to make positive movements and is edging back towards the $1,500 per ounce marker. In fact, at $1,485, the safe-haven asset is now trading at its most expensive since early November, a strong signal as to what we can expect in the New Year.
Bullion has barged higher on the back of some patchy US data, the latest gauge on capital goods showing new orders stagnating and shipments actually falling. Figures from key regions around the world continue to disappoint, and with US-led trade wars remaining unresolved, there are still plenty of reason to fear for the global economy in 2020, a positive omen for gold prices.
Accordingly, City analysts expect earnings at Highland Gold to rise 12% in 2020, resulting in a mega-cheap forward P/E ratio of 8 times. Throw a 4% corresponding dividend yield into the bargain too and I reckon the resources giant is a brilliant buy for any ISA.
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Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended British Land Co. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Motley Fool UK 2019