Hammerson plc increased its annual dividend 6.5% to 17.92 pence a share as it posted pretax profits before exceptionals of Â£86.9m for the year to 31 December, up 1.2% from Â£85.9m a year earlier.
- Adjusted net asset value per share increased by 16.6% to 936 pence, principally as a result of an underlying increase in property valuations of 8.8% overall.
- Return on shareholdersâ equity in 2004 was 22.1%, reflecting the strong valuation performance.
- Net rental income increased by 5.4% on a like-for-like basis. Property disposals reduced rental income by Â£26 million compared with 2003.
- During the year, the group invested over Â£540 million, including Â£203 million in acquiring a further 50% interest in WestQuay shopping centre, Southampton.
- The group sold eight properties for Â£399 million, more than 10% above their book value at 31 December 2003.
- Hammerson elected for tax exempt status for its French business, following its listing in March on Euronext Paris.
- John Nelson will become Chairman on 1 October 2005, on the retirement of Ronald Spinney.
Ronald Spinney, Chairman, said:
'In this, my last annual statement to shareholders, I am very pleased to report on an excellent set of results for Hammerson in 2004. Adjusted net asset value per share increased by 16.6% to 936 pence and the group achieved a return on equity of 22.1%. The policy of progressive growth in dividends has been maintained with a proposed increase of 6.5% this year.
The current strong property investment markets have made it more difficult to acquire income-producing assets that meet the groupâs target financial returns, but Hammerson is benefiting from its development programme, which provides a source of high quality new properties. During 2004, the group invested a total of Â£544 million in the development programme, in improvements to existing properties, in increasing its interests in joint ventures, and in securing future development opportunities.
The group´s retail portfolio offers good potential for growth, notwithstanding some uncertainties over growth in consumer expenditure in the short term. Encouragingly, demand for office accommodation, both in central London and Paris, has improved in the last few months, and this should enable Hammerson to achieve further lettings in its office portfolio and increase rental income.
I am delighted that John Nelson will succeed me as Chairman on my retirement at the end of September. He has broad commercial experience and I believe he will make a valuable contribution in his role as Chairman.
I have every confidence in Hammerson´s future success.'