SINGAPORE (Oct 31): The manager of Ascendas Hospitality trust (AHT) has announced a 2Q19 DPS of 1.46 cents, 2.8% higher than the 1.42 cents declared in 2Q18.

This came on the back of a 3% increase in income available for distribution to $16.6 million, compared to $16.1 million a year ago.

The improvement was attributed to savings in net finance costs and partial distribution of the proceeds from the divestment of the two hotels in Beijing.

Year to date, AHT’s 1H19 DPS came up to 2.81 cents, 2.9% higher than 2.73 cents in 1H18.

As at end Sept, the trust has 12 hotels across Australia, Japan, Singapore and Korea with more than 4,000 rooms in its portfolio.

During the quarter, gross revenue declined by 11.9% to $46.4 million from a year ago, mainly due to lower contribution from the trust’s Australia portfolio and absence of earnings from its China portfolio, exacerbated by unfavourable foreign exchange movement in AUD.

Property expenses dropped 15.2% y-o-y to $25.9 million, bringing 2Q19 net property income to $20.5 million, 7.5% lower than $22.1 million in the previous year.

During the quarter, the trust registered foreign exchange losses of $2.43 million, compared to a gain of $6,000 last year.

On the outlook, Tan Juay Hiang, CEO of the trust’s manager, says, “We will continue to work closely with our hotel operators to drive the performance of the portfolio while looking out for asset enhancement opportunities. On this front, the cafe at the hotel in Brisbane will be revamped to feature a more open concept to attract customers, while a storage space at the Melbourne hotel is proposed to be converted into a bar to create an additional income stream. Novotel Sydney Parramatta will also commence refurbishment of its rooms in early 2019 to refresh the product offering and improve its competitiveness.”

Units in AHT closed at 79 cents on Wednesday.