British shopping centre landlord Intu Properties (>> Intu Properties PLC) hiked its dividend payout for the first time in five years as values and demand for Britain's top malls held up well against a weakening broader market following the country's vote to leave the EU.
The owner of popular British shopping malls such as Manchester's Trafford centre recommended a final dividend of 9.4 pence per share, bringing the total amount for 2016 to 14 pence, an increase of 2 percent from 2015.
"Dividend increase reflects our confidence in Intu's prospects," said Chief Executive David Fischel in a statement.
The company said adjusted diluted net asset value per share (NAV) remained unchanged at 404 pence in the year ended Dec. 31, from a year ago.
The company said full-year life-for-like net rental income grew 3.6 percent, in-line with its forecast set in July of an increase of 3 percent to 4 percent.
Fischel said the company intends to deliver continuing growth in like-for-like net rental income over the coming years, reiterating that it expects this to be in the 0-2 percent range for 2017.
The company said on Thursday it had signed 214 long-term leases over the period, at rates 4 percent ahead of estimated rental values.
A report by property consultant CBRE (>> CBRE Group Inc) has shown that values of UK retail properties fell 5 percent in 2016, and analysts have warned values could fall further this year due to uncertainty over Britain's exit from the EU.
"While the environment for business this year is likely to be challenging as the full impact emerges of the UK's EU referendum vote, we are well positioned as we focus on top quality assets in prime locations," Fischel added.
Intu has been selling smaller malls that have struggled to combat online competition to focus on its better-performing 'destination centres' that have drawn visitors with attractions such as food courts and cinemas.
Analysts said Intu seemed worse positioned to weather a sentiment decline than its closest rival Hammerson (>> Hammerson plc) due to its limited overseas exposure, stagnant yearly dividend and higher vacancy rate than the sector average.
Hammerson gained sharply on Monday after reporting higher full-year NAV and expressing confidence in its future abilities despite persisting UK retail headwinds and geopolitical uncertainty.
Intu shares gained as much as 6.6 percent to 293.6 pence on Thursday and was the top gainer on the FTSE 100 index <.FTSE>. The stock was also the third top mover on Euro Stoxx 600 index <.STOXX>.
(Reporting by Justin George Varghese and Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair)