Assura ‘on solid footing’ despite profit drop

The Warrington-based healthcare investor reported a 6% decrease in pre-tax profit for the 12 months ended 31 March 2020, and is in talks to buy two regional sites after spending £119m on acquisitions last year.   

The slight year-on-year profit drop reflects “a lower positive valuation movement compared with the prior year”, the company said in its full-year financial results statement today. 

The results showed a 9% increase in net rental income, boosted by the acquisition of 28 properties for a total of £119m during the 12-month period.

Assura’s property portfolio almost doubled in value to £2.1bn, up from £1.9bn the previous year. The portfolio now comprises 576 properties. As well as the new acquisitions, Assura disposed of 19 assets for a combined £20m, according to the statement. 

Chief executive Jonathan Murphy told Place North West the firm plans to spend £357m on new development projects over the next three to five years, and is in negotiations over two potential North West acquisitions. He did not provide additional details.

In April, Assura raised £185m from a share issue to fund its development and acquisition pipeline. One project in that pipeline is Trafford Housing Trust’s Timperley Library project. Assura expects to buy the medical centre on its completion in August.

Assura said today it will increase its quarterly dividend payment by 1.9% effective from this July. Last year, the firm paid out £66m in dividends compared to £73m the previous year. 

The company’s share price has increased over the last 12 months from 56.8p in April 2019, to settle around the 77p mark. Its stock was up 3% by midday on Thursday.

Murphy said in a statement:“Assura has delivered another strong year, reflecting our predictable business model, financial strength and market-leading capabilities.

“With the outbreak of Covid-19, the importance of the NHS to our society has never been more apparent. Assura has worked closely with the NHS and our GP partners since the onset of the crisis, to make sure we can best support the health service while focusing on the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues, occupiers and their patients.

Ed Smith, non-executive chairman at Assura, added: “This is an incredibly challenging time, and we all share the acute sense that the actions we take right now to support our occupiers and the wider NHS are how we will be judged by both our investors, and by the wider world.”  

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