InterContinental Hotels surges back into black

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InterContinental Hotels Group said Tuesday that it jumped back into net profit in the first half of 2010, spurred by strengthening demand in Asia, particularly in China.

Profit after tax stood at 141 million dollars (107 million euros) in the six months to the end of June, which compared with a net loss of 29 million dollars in the same part of 2009, the world's largest hotels operator said.

The group, whose hotel chains include InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, added in a results statement that revenues rose six percent to 772 million dollars, as more business customers flocked to its facilities.

And revenue per available room (RevPAR) -- a key performance indicator for the industry -- rose by 7.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010 compared with a much smaller increase of 0.2 percent in the first quarter.

"Trading strengthened as the first half progressed with global RevPAR up 3.9 percent overall and 7.4 percent in the second quarter," chief executive Andrew Cosslett said in the statement.

"Asia is leading the recovery with Greater China reporting RevPAR up 29.4 percent in the half."

He added: "As anticipated, occupancy drove RevPAR increases, with business travellers returning in greater numbers."

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) franchises, leases, manages or owns more than 650,000 rooms in more than 4,500 hotels across the world. It has operations in 100 countries and territories.

Despite the upbeat earnings release, the group sounded a note of caution about the outlook.

"The economic environment remains uncertain. However there are encouraging signs of positive momentum in the industry," IHG said.

"Trading strengthened during the first half of the year driven primarily by occupancy as business travellers returned in greater numbers.

"Rates are now stabilising across the world, with most markets experiencing rate growth towards the end of the first half. Booking windows do, however, remain short and visibility limited."

© 2010 AFP

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