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09 Jun 2020 | 07:51

Big Yellow lifts dividend as FY profit rises

(Sharecast News) - Self-storage company Big Yellow lifted its dividend on Tuesday as it posted a rise in full-year profit. In the year to the end of March 2020, adjusted pre-tax profit increased 5.2% to £71m on revenue of £129.3m, up 3.1% thanks to increases in average rate. The total dividend was lifted 1.8% to 33.8p a share.

On a statutory basis, pre-tax profit fell 26% to £93.4m due to lower revaluation gain on investment properties.

In the immediate aftermath of the Covid lockdown, both customer move-ins and move-outs were down about 50%, and although the net impact on occupancy was negative, this was modest given the external environment, the company said.

More recently, Big Yellow has been seeing an increase in prospects and move-ins and move-outs. As of 8 June, the net occupancy gain for the quarter to date was 38,000 sq ft, versus 24,000 in the same period a year ago.

Prospect numbers have recovered and for the first week of June were up 20% on the equivalent period last year, it said. As of 8 June, it has collected 96.7% of its April and May revenue, compared to 97.3% over the same period last year.

Executive chairman Nicholas Vetch said: "We, together with every other business, have experienced two seismic external shocks in twelve years. As was the case with the global financial crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic will most likely accelerate and accentuate pre-existing structural trends, challenges and opportunities and no doubt catalyse some that are currently unforeseen.

"For this business there will be some negatives but a good deal of positives which we believe give us grounds for reasonable optimism. It will take time for those competing forces to play out and some clarity to emerge which will become evident in the performance of the business over the next few years."

Vetch said that so far, the business has proved to be "relatively resilient" through the initial lockdown phase, but cautioned over limited visibility on future trading patterns.

At 0820 BST, the shares were down 0.3% at 1,050.00p.

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