Dividend hike and positive outlook from Assura Group

Assura Group today announced an increased dividend and said it is well placed to take advantage of growing demand for NHS services.

The Warrington-based healthcare REIT revealed a 49% increase in quarterly dividend payment to 0.45p a share for the three months to December 31. On an annualised basis, Assura Group is now paying a dividend of 1.8p a share.

Assura said it retains its progressive dividend policy and that future rental growth, acquisitions and developments will continue to support returns to shareholders.

Providing financial results for the six months ending 30 September, the investor in GP surgeries and primary care clinics said underlying profits from continuing operations increased 10.2% from £4.9m to £5.4m.

Profit before tax increased 114% from £5.7m to £12.2m.

The value of net property assets increased from £569m to £651m and net rental income increased by 5.9% from £16.9m to £17.9m.

During the period under review, Assura acquired the £62.9m Trinity portfolio with an annualised rent roll of £4m.

Earlier this month Assura Group said it was selling its Local Improvement Finance Trusts investments for £22.4m. The board said it will invest the money in additional primary care assets.

Assura Group's business is built on a core investment portfolio of 197 medical centres.

Graham Roberts, chief executive of Assura Group, said: Our performance has been driven by intensive management actions over the period as we continue to drive value from our core investments, grow our asset base, extract value from our non-core portfolio and add value through financial discipline.

"This together with our successful acquisition of the Trinity portfolio has allowed us to make a step change increase in our quarterly dividend of 49%, and retain our progressive dividend policy.

"Demands on the NHS will continue increasing, and primary care must play a key and growing role in meeting the nation's future healthcare needs. Assura, through its expertise, development programme and low cost structure, is well placed to help deliver primary care space for the future."

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