Shares in InterContinental Hotels were up on the FTSE 100 in morning trading after the group reported a rise in revenue and operating profit in the first quarter ended 31 March.

Revenue in the period rose nine per cent to $396 million, while operating profit increased 35 per cent to $112 million.

The group said that it had also managed to cut its net debt from $1.1 billion to $846 million.

Andrew Cosslett, Chief Executive of InterContinental Hotels, said, "We delivered a strong set of results in the first quarter. Global revenue per available room (RevPAR) grew 6.9%, with 18.8% growth in Greater China and 8.4% in the US, the highest growth in the US since the second quarter 2006. Underlying revenue growth of 6% was converted to 23% operating profit growth, reflecting good use of our scale and the efficiency of our business model.

"Our strategy to free up capital to drive growth for our brands is on track. Post quarter end we sold two hotels in the US, with proceeds substantially above book value. We have recently committed to enter into a joint venture with Duet Hotels to take Holiday Inn Express into India, developing 19 new hotels by 2016.

"During the quarter, we welcomed The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas into our system as our first InterContinental Alliance Resorts, boosting room supply by almost 7,000 and we continue to look for further opportunities of this kind.

"We remain confident about the outlook for the rest of the year. Demand for our brands continues to strengthen with both guests and hotel owners. This is driving our performance and reinforcing our industry leading pipeline. We are well positioned to take advantage of the gathering rate momentum we now see around the world."

Keith Bowman, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, commented, "The hotelier continues to reflect economic trends across the world. Profits have again exceeded analyst expectations, buoyed by a bounce back in business travel, strong Asian demand and a revamp of the group's Holiday Inn outlets. Furthermore, joint ventures are expanding the group's reach, with the latest partnership pushing the group into India, while group debt continues to be reduced.

"On the downside, upheaval in the Middle East continues to impact, while events in Japan have also crimped growth. In addition, despite broad management optimism for the outlook, spending cuts have yet to be implemented in the company's biggest marketplace, the USA.

"Nonetheless, with the group's key corporate customers having already cut costs, InterContinental remains a beneficiary of the rebound in economic confidence. Exposure to developing markets is playing its part, whilst the credit crisis itself has impacted the supply of hotels, a factor now leaving the company in something of a 'sweet spot'. For now, aided by a progressive dividend policy, market consensus opinion continues to denote a buy."

By 09:25 shares in InterContinental Hotels were up 2.80 per cent on the FTSE 100 to 1,284.00 pence per share.