InterContinental profit up 22%, outlook positive

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LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) The world's largest hotelier, nterContinental Hotels Plc, met market expectations on Tuesday with a 22 percent rise in third-quarter profit and said the outlook for the rest of the year remained positive.

The British-based group, which operates InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels, said continuing operating profit rose 22 percent to 66 million pounds (7.4 million) in the three months to Sept. 30, meeting an average forecast of 66 million by five analysts.

''InterContinental Group has had a good third quarter, with strong performances across all our brands and the continuation of a record signings pace, which is seeing us sign two new hotels a day and keeping us on track to beat our net room additions target,'' Chief Executive Andrew Cosslett said in a statement.

The group said in August it was confident it will exceed its 3-1/2 year target to open 50,000 to 60,000 net new rooms by end-2008.

The company, which operates more than 3,800 hotels globally, said on Tuesday it had signed up 29,379 rooms in the quarter, up 18 percent from a year ago, and its development pipeline rose 28 percent since the start of the year to 201,776 rooms.

The hotelier, which earns over 70 percent of its profit in the United States, said revenue per available room -- a key measure of hotel performance -- rose 5.6 percent in America as InterContinental and Crowne Plaza outperformed market segments.

REUTERS BJR ND1332

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