Hotel group InterContinental upbeat as 2013 profits rise
LONDON Feb 18 (Reuters) - InterContinental Hotels Group , the world's largest hotelier, said it was increasingly confident about 2014 after strong demand in the U.S. and improving conditions in Europe helped it to post a 10 percent rise in 2013 profit.
IHG, home to brands such as Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and InterContinental, said on Tuesday annual pretax profit was $600 million dollars, ahead of forecasts of $585 million, with revenue up 3.7 percent to $1.9 billion.
Global revenue per available room (RevPAR), a key industry measure, rose 3.8 percent for the year, led by solid trading in the United States, where hoteliers are benefiting from improving demand and a lower than average number of hotel rooms being added to the system.
"Looking into 2014, although economic conditions in some markets remain uncertain, forward bookings data is encouraging and we are confident that we will deliver another year of growth," Chief Executive Richard Solomons said in a statement.
In its fourth quarter, trading remained strong in its Asia and Middle East region and in the U.S., which accounts for roughly two thirds of IHG's operating profit, while RevPAR increased sharply in Europe, rising from 0.7 percent in the first nine months to 4.9 percent in the final quarter.
There was also an improvement in Greater China, where IHG shrugged off slower macroeconomic conditions.
Over the year the firm raised total gross proceeds of $830 million through the disposal of three hotels, including the $120 million sale of its Mark Hopkins hotel in San Francisco, which was also announced on Tuesday.
Shares in the firm, which raised its total dividend per share by 9 percent to 70 cents, closed at 2047 pence on Monday, up 8 percent on a year ago, valuing the business at around 5.3 billion pounds.
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