- Real estate investment trust Tritax Big Box REIT posted a 5.7% increase in first-half operating profit as it upped its interim dividend by 2.2%.

Operating profit before changes in the fair value of investment properties, share of profit from joint ventures and share-based payment charges rose 5.7% to £60.7m in the six months to 30 June.

The company increased dividends for the six-month period by 2.2% to 3.425p per share, which it said put it 'on track' to hit its full-year target of 6.85p.

The company's adjusted earnings per share also increased, climbing 0.9% year on year to 3.41p per share.

The independent value of the firm's portfolio was 12.6% higher than at the start of the period at £3.85bn.

However, net asset value fell 1.8% to 150.08p as a result of extraordinary costs incurred as a result of its acquisition of 87% of DB Symmetry's land portfolio.

It reported a total return for the period of 0.42%, down from 2018's 5.10%, as the above extraordinary costs cut into the return. Excluding these, the total return would have been 2.90%, it said.

It added it maintained a 'conservative' level of gearing, with a period-end LTV of 29% (up 2% from 31 December 2018). However, when taking into account its level of committed capital expenditure, it said this moved closer to its medium-term target of around 35%.

'The long-term fundamentals of our market are positive. The sector continues to benefit from the structural change in shopping habits, as consumers switch from the high street to buying online, creating ongoing demand for logistics space to fulfil these orders,' said chairman Richard Jewson.

'The quality of our portfolio and customer base means that, irrespective of conditions in the wider economy, we are confident of continuing to deliver secure and growing dividends to Shareholders, as part of an attractive Total Return over the medium term,' he added.

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