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Vital Healthcare lifts profit 7.8% on revaluation gains

Vital Healthcare lifts profit 7.8% on revaluation gains, chases ageing Australasian populations

By Suze Metherell

Aug. 14 (BusinessDesk) - Vital Healthcare Property Trust, New Zealand’s largest listed medical and healthcare property investor, said annual profit rose 7.8 percent as it recognised a $4.9 million revaluation gain in its portfolio.

Profit rose to $37.4 million in the year ended June 30, from $34.7 million the year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Net distributable income, the earnings measure it uses for distributions to unitholders, increased 23 percent to $34.7 million, or 10.4 cents per share. Net rental income edged up 0.2 percent to $57.97 million as lower property expenses made up for a 0.7 percent decline in gross rental income.

Vital Healthcare is investing in private hospital facilities in New Zealand and Australia as it expects demand to increase from an ageing population, a rise in chronic disease and higher patient expectations. About 47 percent of Australians have private health care cover for hospitals, compared to about 30 percent of New Zealanders. On Monday the healthcare investor announced it had purchased the Marian Centre 31-bed psychiatric hospital in Perth for A$13.5 million. Once the deal settles, Vital will embark on a A$10.8 million redevelopment over the coming year to more than double bed numbers to 66.

"The healthcare real estate sector continues to experience rising investor demand with firming market capitalisation rates indicating greater interest and activity levels," said chairman of the trust's manager, Graeme Horsley. "This escalating investor interest, both domestically and internationally, is being driven by its defensive qualities and positive underlying fundamentals, including a growing population base, ageing demographic and strong levels of private health insurance in Australia."

The hospital investor also secured a 30-year lease renewal with MercyAscot at Ascot Hospital and Clinics in Greenlane, Auckland.

The annual revaluation of Vital’s property portfolio increased $15.2 million to $613.1 million, reflecting rent growth, close to full occupancy and development assets "crystallising positive valuation margins", and saw an incentive fee of $500,000 paid to the manager for the first time in three years. The weighted average lease term (WALT) rose to 15.1 years from 11.8 years.

Vital Healthcare will make a fourth-quarter distribution of 1.975 cents a unit taking the full-year payment to 7.9 cents, and expected to to distribute 8 cents per unit in 2015, it said.

The company flagged capital expansion projects and a expected "opportunities in the order of A$50 million to materalise over the course of 2015," without being more specific.

Units of Vital Healthcare was unchanged at $1.40 and has advanced 9.4 percent this year. The stock is rated a 'hold' by four analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median price target of $1.39.


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