InterContinental profit rise led by US growth

Profits at InterContinental Hotels Group up 11% last year

InterContinental Hotels Group, the world's biggest hotelier, posted an 11% rise in profits for last year, underpinned by a strong US business and expansion in developing markets.

The hotelier is home to the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and InterContinental brands.

It said its operating profits for 2012 came to $614m, ahead of expectations of $605m.

Annual revenue rose 5% to $1.84 billion, while the dividend rose 16% to 64 cents.

Growth in global revenue per available room (RevPAR), a key hotel industry measure, grew 5.2% in 2012, with its core US market 6.3% ahead and China up 5.4%.

The British group, which operates more than 670,000 rooms in over 4,500 hotels worldwide, said it was positioned for a further good performance in 2013 with January global RevPAR up 6.6%.

Earlier this month, Sheraton-owner Starwood posted higher-than-expected earnings and raised the lower end of its 2013 forecast for RevPAR. Marriott reports fourth quarter reports on February 19.

As part of its strategy to sell assets in return for management contracts, InterContinental said it continued to market its New York Barclay Hotel and that the disposal process for its London Park Lane property had started. Analysts expect the two to fetch over $700m.

IHG opened a net 18,000 rooms during the year and has a pipeline of around 169,000, in line with expectations.