Greencoat UK Wind (UKW) provides a pure investment exposure to UK wind farms, with the twin aims of delivering a high, RPI-linked income return for shareholders whilst maintaining capital value in real terms.
These aims have been fully met so far. As we discuss in the Dividend section, the dividend forecast for next year is 7.1p, representing a compound annual growth of 18.3% since listing. NAV progression has also remained ahead of inflation, with growth of 22.1% against RPI over the same period of 17.4%. In share-price terms, shareholders have enjoyed a total return of 115.1% since launch to 31 December 2019.
During 2019, the trust’s earnings were below budget thanks to wholesale power prices remaining below average last year and thanks also to lower power generation from the wind-farm portfolio. Even so, UKW’s dividend was well covered at 1.4x. The manager’s long-term expectation is 1.7x.
UKW continues to grow, and now has gross assets of £2.44bn invested in 35 wind farms. Despite a competitive market, the manager has deployed around £800m of capital (invested and committed) over 2019, and is now becoming ‘utility scale’. UKW now provides around 1% of UK electricity generated.
As we note in the Discount section, the publication of a bearish note on long-term electricity prices by Bloomberg New Energy Finance has caused a healthy reduction in the premiums across the sector, not to mention the recent market falls. UKW trades at a premium to the peer-group average, perhaps because of the higher investment returns so far delivered, the higher discount rate, and also because of its well-covered dividend.