Intercontinental Hotels Group has delivered profits ahead of expectations after Revenue per available room - a key measure of a hotels' performance - increased globally at 3.9 pct at constant currency.
Total revenue for first half year was £5.6 bn up 9 pct on last year's recession:
"As anticipated, occupancy drove RevPAR increases, with business travellers returning in greater numbers." said Andrew Cosslett, Chief Executive of the Group, "Rates are now stabilising across the world, with most markets seeing rate growth towards the end of the first half."
The group now hopes with over 132 hotels in China, and 148 in the pipeline, the 'emerging market' can be a key driver of business. Turnover there - boosted by the Shanghai Expo - doubled to $35 million.
Since the recession, the Yuan has gained 30 pct against other currencies and the fastest growing economy has begun to look for ways to spend, and Cosslett hopes the company will benefit from their newfound richness.
"The quality of these new hotels is exceptionally high, particularly in China where both our pipeline and system of open hotels are skewed towards more upscale developments." said Cosslett.
"These efforts put us in great shape to increase share in what is now a rising market." he added.
Intercontinental Buckhead, meanwhile, was sold - the American, Atlanta Hotel parted with for $105 million to 'reduce capital intensity' whilst interim dividend was up 5% to 12.8¢ equivalent to 8.0p at the closing exchange rate on 6 August 2010.
"The medium to long earnings power of IHG remains compelling," said London-based Nomura analyst Simon Larkin who has a "buy" rating on the company and 4 percent increase in revpar estimated vs. 3.9pct actual.
Bank of America/Merrill Lynch however have a 'underperform' on the shares after:
"H1 results show a mainly occupancy led recovery is gaining momentum."
"We leave our forecasts unchanged as we are nervous about macro economic conditions, now forecast fewer rooms on average and expect staff costs to rise as recovery continues." said analyst Ian Rennardson.