Ascott’s Profit Surges 184%, Gives Bonus Dividend
B. Serviced Residence Segment
|Gross Dividend of 12% or 1.92 cts per share after tax
Comprising first and final dividend 6% + bonus dividend 6%
The Ascott Group's net profit surged 184 per cent to S$52.5 million in 2004, on the back of a 19 per cent increase in group revenue.
This was due to the stronger performance of its serviced residences in Singapore, China and Europe.
The higher profit also included portfolio gains from the divestment of Scotts Shopping Centre and The Ascott Singapore, and negative goodwill from the group's acquisition of the remaining 50 per cent stake in Citadines. This was partly offset by deficits in revaluation of certain properties and provisions.
The group's 2004 revenue grew 19 per cent to S$238.9 million, driven by a 34 per cent increase in revenue in its serviced residence segment. The revenue growth was achieved across all regions where the group operates.
Higher Fourth Quarter Profit
Ascott recorded a marked improvement in its fourth quarter 2004 results, achieving a fourth quarter net profit of S$5.9 million compared to a loss of S$3.2 million in the same period 2003.
Group fourth quarter revenue increased by 58 per cent to S$82.9 million, led by an 83 per cent surge in serviced residence revenue. This was mainly due to the expansion of its business in Europe, following completion of its acquisition of Citadines.
Ascott's directors are recommending a gross dividend of 12 per cent or 1.92 cents per share after tax. This comprises a first and final gross dividend of six per cent, and a bonus gross dividend of another six per cent.
Mr Lim Chin Beng, Ascott's chairman, said: "Ascott has made significant progress in the effective reallocation of capital and in strengthening its serviced residence business.
"Last year, it divested some assets in Singapore and redeployed the capital to acquire the Citadines chain in Europe. Ascott now has a more diversified earnings base, and a springboard for further expansion in Europe. The company will continue to monetise assets and invest in new serviced residence projects to achieve accretive growth."
Mr Liew Mun Leong, Ascott's deputy chairman and president and CEO of its parent company CapitaLand Limited, said: "With its extensive global footprint and its core operating business doing well, Ascott has become an added profit driver to the CapitaLand group's earnings."
Mr Cameron Ong, Ascott's chief executive officer, said: "Ascott has effectively leveraged on its combined larger customer base to increase cross-selling across regions and accelerate sales growth. Looking ahead, with new serviced residences opening this year in South Korea, China, Malaysia and Dubai, and the integration of Citadines' 5,000 serviced apartments in Europe, the company is well positioned to benefit from the greater economies of scale."
He added that Ascott plans to expand further its presence in China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and continental Europe over the next few years. It will achieve the growth through a mix of equity participation and leases, and by securing more management contracts which will increase its fee-based income.
Mr Ong said that the business outlook for the global hospitality industry for 2005 is positive. Ascott's profit from operations in 2005 is expected to be higher than in 2004. However, its portfolio gain from the sale of assets is likely to be lower than in 2004.
Mr Ong added that since The Ascott Group was formed in November 2000 through a merger between The Ascott Limited and Somerset Holdings Limited, the group has largely achieved its goal to transform into a pure play serviced residence company, with substantial overseas operations.
Today, 85 per cent of its revenue is derived from its serviced residence business, and 81 per cent of its revenue is generated from outside Singapore.
About The Ascott Group
The Ascott Group is a leading international serviced residence company with 13,800 serviced residence units in the key cities of Europe and Asia Pacific.
Ascott's global presence spans 40 cities in 17 countries. These include London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Barcelona in Europe; Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing in Asia; Sydney and Auckland in Australia/NZ; and Dubai in the Gulf region.
Through its marketing alliance with Equity Corporate Housing, the group also offers upper-tier serviced apartments throughout the US. Headquartered in Singapore, The Ascott Group pioneered the Asia Pacific's first branded luxury serviced residence in 1984. Today, it boasts a 21-year industry track record and serviced residence brands that enjoy recognition worldwide.
The group's flagship The Ascott luxury serviced residence brand projects an elegant lifestyle appealing to top executives. Its Somerset upper-tier brand offers stylish, contemporary living for senior to upper management executives. The mid-tier Citadines brand provides corporate executives with comfortable city residences.
Recent awards the group has clinched include the 2004 Business Traveller Best Serviced Residence Brand and Best Serviced Residence property in Asia Pacific awards. The group took the Number One position in the 2004 China's Top 100 Serviced Residences ranking for its eight properties in China. Ascott also won the 2004 Vietnam Economic Times' Best Service in Serviced Apartments awards in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and Best Annual Report and Best Operating & Financial Review awards at the 2004 Singapore Annual Report Awards.
Listed on the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange, Ascott is the serviced residence arm of CapitaLand Limited, one of Asia's largest listed property companies. Headquartered in Singapore, CapitaLand's core businesses in property, hospitality, property services and real estate financial services are focused in gateway cities in Asia, Australia and Europe. The company's hospitality businesses in hotels and serviced residences span more than 60 cities around the world.
For reservations on Ascott properties, call Central Reservations on (65) 6272-7272 or visit www.the-ascott.com