21 Aug 2013

Property investor optimistic of dividend lift

7:14 am on 21 August 2013

Precinct Properties is optimistic that rising rental income will allow it to lift its dividend for the current year.

The property investment company says it had committed occupancy of 97% at 30 June, but generating occupancy was only 93%, providing potential for earnings to grow.

As well, it expects market rental growth in Auckland due to falling vacancy and incentive levels and it also expects moderate rental growth in Wellington due to tenants focusing on how well buildings are likely to stand up to earthquakes.

Chief executive Scott Pritchard said it's important to look after its investors.

"We're increasing our dividend by 5% for the next year which, again, is a really strong indication," Mr Pritchard said.

"We retain 10% of our earnings also, and so we believe we're organically funded in that we retain some of our earnings to fund the maintenance on our buildings and we don't have to rely on debt capital to fund that.

"But allowing our shareholders to take home a bigger dividend is really important for us and so we're really pleased to be able to deliver that."

Precinct's annual net profit more than tripled, thanks to a boost in the value of its buildings and a big tax credit, Mr Pritchard said.

Leasing success and a more optimal level of debt also helped boost profit.

Net profit for the 12 months to the end of June rose to $157.5 million from more than $45 million the previous year although, excluding one-off gains, underlying profit rose 13.6%.

One of Precinct's achievements during the year was to cut its insurance bill by about 12%, said Mr Pritchard.