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21 May 2020 | 08:19

Assura ups dividend, sees post-crisis opportunities

(Sharecast News) - Assura increased its dividend as the healthcare property developer reported an increase in annual earnings and said post-coronavirus conditions could be good for its business. EPRA earnings per share, excluding fair value gains and disposal proceeds, for the year to the end of March rose 3.7% to 2.8p a share.

Pretax profit fell 76.1% to £78.9m. The value of the FTSE 250 company's investment property rose 8.1% to £2.14bn.

Assura announced a 1.9% increase in its quarterly dividend payment to 0.71p a share with effect from the July 2020 payment. The dividend rose 3.8% to 2.75p a share in the year to March.

Chief Executive Jonathan Murphy said Assura entered the current financial year with a strong pipeline. It is developing 15 sites with a gross spend of £81m and an immediate pipeline of £77m of opportunities expected to start in the next 12 months. Assura raised £185m from investors in April to fund investment.

Murphy said after the crisis subsides health trusts would look to shift more services away from hospitals to primary care centres and the NHS could receive more funding.

There will be a surge in non-acute cases that have been put off during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said. Medical centres will need upgrading with better technology, he added.

"As the scale and nature of these evolving requirements become clearer, we are ideally placed to support the needs of the NHS," Murphy said. "Assura has the financial strength, innovative wherewithal and necessary skills to meet these challenges. Despite the unprecedented level of uncertainty at the current time, we will continue to look forward to the future with confidence in Assura's prospects."

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