GDS Holdings today announced its Q1 2021 earnings and provided updates on its data center portfolio utilization, leasing, development pipeline, and geographic expansion into Southeast Asia.

Financial Performance in Q1 2021 – GDS Holdings

In Q1 2021, GDS Holdings reported revenue of RMB1,706m ($260m), a 4.6% increase quarter-over-quarter, and adjusted EBITDA of RMB818m ($125m), a 7.9% increase quarter-over-quarter. In turn, the company’s EBITDA margin was 47.9% in Q1 2021, a ~150 bps improvement quarter-over-quarter.

Operational Performance in Q1 2021 – GDS Holdings

Portfolio

In Q1 2021, GDS brought 14.3k sqm (154k sqft) of area into service. In turn, the company’s total capacity reached 494k sqm (5.3 million sqft), of which 333k sqm (3.6 million sqft) was in service and 162k sqm (1.7 million sqft) was under construction.

Utilization

In Q1 2021, GDS’ utilized space by customers increased by 16.2k sqm (174k sqft). Additionally, the company’s utilization rate for area in service was 72.9% as of Q1 2021, a 180 bps improvement quarter-over-quarter.

Notably, the company’s commitment rate for area in service was 94.6% as of Q1 2021. Therefore, as new lease commencements occur, GDS’ utilization rate should increase closer towards its commitment rate.

Monthly service revenue (MSR) per sqm declined 2.6% quarter-over-quarter to RMB2,425. For full-year 2021, GDS expects that monthly service revenue (MSR) per sqm will decline by a low single-digit percentage year-over-year.

Leasing

During Q1 2021, GDS signed six hyperscale leases, totaling 61.1 megawatts of power capacity, across 23.7k sqm (255k sqft). Specifically, these leases include:

  1. BJ13 (Beijing): 13.5 megawatts of power capacity, across 5.5k sqm (59k sqft) of area
  2. LF11 (Langfang): 6.5 megawatts of power capacity, across 2.3k sqm (25k sqft) of area
  3. LF12 (Langfang): 6.5 megawatts of power capacity, across 2.7k sqm (29k sqft) of area
  4. LF13 (Langfang): 12.9 megawatts of power capacity, across 5.7k sqm (61k sqft) of area
  5. HK1 (Hong Kong): 7.9 megawatts of power capacity, across 3.2k sqm (34k sqft) of area
  6. CQ1 (Chongqing): 13.8 megawatts of power capacity, across 4.3k sqm (47k sqft) of area

Notably, in Q1 2021, GDS made advances in its business outside of Mainland China. Indeed, in Hong Kong the company closed an anchor order for 45% of its HK1 data center with a Chinese cloud service provider. Furthermore, this same customer has indicated strong interest in anchoring GDS’ HK2 data center, which will enter service in 2023.

Finally, GDS’ quarterly leasing was on-track to meet the company’s full-year guidance for organic leasing of 90k sqm to 100k sqm in 2021.

Backlog

Overall, GDS continues to grow its backlog, which reached 183k sqm (2.0 million sqft), up 4.3% quarter-over-quarter.

Development Pipeline – GDS Holdings

GDS’ total development pipeline as of Q1 2021 stood at 461k sqm (5.0 million sqft). Notably, land acquisitions added ~67k sqm (721k sqft) to the secured development pipeline during the quarter.

Developed and Developable Area by Cluster – GDS Holdings

GDS Holdings Developed and Developable Area by Cluster Q1 2021
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Geographic Expansion into Southeast Asia

Beyond the Greater China region, GDS has set its expansion plans towards Southeast Asia and specifically, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Indeed, the company notes that it “can capture several hundred megawatts of new business over the next 5 years” in these markets.

GDS Holdings Geographic Expansion into Southeast Asia
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Demand for wholesale data center capacity is coming from many of GDS’ largest clients, which include Chinese cloud service providers and internet companies Alibaba and Tencent.

In terms of timing, GDS indicates that it has “identified some very promising investment opportunities” and it aims to “make at least one or two commitments within the next couple of quarters”.

Mary Zhang covers Data Centers for Dgtl Infra, including Equinix (NASDAQ: EQIX), Digital Realty (NYSE: DLR), CyrusOne, CoreSite Realty, QTS Realty, Switch Inc, Iron Mountain (NYSE: IRM), Cyxtera (NASDAQ: CYXT), and many more. Within Data Centers, Mary focuses on the sub-sectors of hyperscale, enterprise / colocation, cloud service providers, and edge computing.

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