Ascott Residence Trust posts S$45.1m distributable income for 2007

Mainboard-listed Ascott Residence Trust has posted better-than-expected full year earnings with distributable income for 2007 came in at S$45.1 million, an 83 per cent jump year-on-year and 12 per cent higher than its own forecast.

Key drivers for Ascott Residence Trust’s good results were its strong overall operating performance and the acquisition of properties in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Melbourne and Tokyo.

Distribution per unit (DPU) for the year ended in December is 7.7 cents, a 47 per cent rise over the previous year.

For the fourth quarter, DPU is 2.12 cents, an increase of 28 per cent year-on-year.

And the property trust is confident that it will see strong growth this year despite the credit crunch.

Its CEO Chong Kee Hiong said, “I think the challenge is actually the equity market, so fund raising through equity will be a challenge. However, we are well positioned. Our gearing is only about less than 34 per cent, way below the 60 per cent limit we can gear up to.”

The trust will continue to source for yield-accretive acquisitions in countries such as India and Thailand. Its portfolio is expected to grow to S$1.53 billion upon completion of its latest acquisition in Perth.

Mr Chong said, “Perth is a very good market, the growth last year has been 6.3 per cent versus the national Australian average of about 3.2 per cent. And this mainly comes from mining business. And mining business, as you know, is very long term in nature, so the growth will not be just for a year. So we think now is the right time to go into the Perth market.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year. – CNA/ac

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 23 Jan 2008

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