InterContinental Hotels group reported forecast-beating profits for the first half on the back of strong growth in revenue per room.
The group, which also operates the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express chains, reported operating profit of £107 million for the six months to June 30, up from £82 million and ahead of expectations of £96 million to £104 million.
Revenue per available room (RevPar) rose by 11.2 per cent at constant exchange rates.
IHG - which has 23 of its hotel brands operating either in Birmingham or within 30 miles of the city centre - said yesterday it may return further funds to shareholders in future.
Chief executive Andrew Cosslett said: "This has been a good first half for IHG with excellent trading across each of our three operating regions, and RevPAR outperformance in all our key profit generators.
"We have made good progress on our asset disposal programme and remain fully focused on increasing the number of hotels that carry our brands.
"Current trading is healthy and our outlook for the rest of the year remains positive."
IHG said room count rose by 3,469 in the first six months to 541,002 and the group is now forecasting net room additions of around 10,000 for 2006 as a whole.
And the company said its development pipeline has increased by 21,588 rooms to 130,000, equivalent to 1,028 hotels.
Some 80 per cent of these rooms are expected to open before the end of 2008, IHG said.
IHG, which has returned around £2.7 billion to shareholders since it was separated from Six Continents in April 2003, said it will return more funds in future and plans to announce further details of this no later than its full-year results in February next year.
Total operating profits came in at £127 million in the first half, beating the market forecast range of £109 million to £121 million.
Franchised operating profit rose by 14 per cent to £117 million, while managed operating profit was 39 per cent higher at £43 million. Revenue on continuing operations grew to £394 million from £340 million, the company said.
In the Americas, RevPar increased by 11.5 per cent in the first half, while operating profit rose by 21 per cent to $199 million (£105.2 million).
In Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), RevPar grew by 11.5 per cent and operating profit rose by six per cent to £17 million.
The group cautioned the Middle East conflict could lead to lower managed profits from this division in the second half.
The Asian business reported 9.3 per cent growth in RevPar and a 42 per cent rise in operating profit to $27 million (£14.2 million).
IHG is paying an interim dividend of 5.1p, up from 4.6p.
The group owns, manages, leases or franchises over 3,600 hotels and 537,500 guest rooms globally.
Shares finished down 6p at 898p.