Property group Capital & Regional - owner of the 400,000 sq ft Mall shopping centre above New Street Station - has raised its full-year dividend by a whopping 56 per cent after reporting a big increase in annual profits.
The specialised real estate asset manager, which focuses on shopping centres, retail parks and leisure complexes, last year made pretax profits before exceptional items of #36.2 million, up from #26.3 million for the previous year.
Adjusted net asset value (NAV) for the year to December 30 was 710 pence per share on a fully-diluted basis, up from the 521p seen at the end of 2003.
Chief executive Martin Barber told shareholders: "2004 has been another great year where we have seen further significant growth for the group. We are now seeing the benefits of our new business model and remain confident that this will help us deliver sustainable outperformance in the future."
Mr Barber said that the value of property under Capital & Regional's management rose from #2.9 billion to #4 billion.
During the year, the group increased the number of shopping centres it manages from 15 to 21. Apart from the Mall in Birmingham, it also has centres in Sutton Coldfield and Gloucester.
Following the results, shares in the company rose 13p to 720p. The stock has outperformed the UK real estate sector by almost 18 per cent in the past 12 months.
The company proposed a final dividend of 9p per share, making a total pay-out of 14p, up 56 per cent on the year.
Bridgewell re-initiated coverage of Capital & Regional shares with an 'overweight' recommendation, and said the shares "should be trading at not less than 800 pence". It also noted the strength of the fund management business was "evident" from the preliminary figures.