InterContinental Hotels Group, one of the world's largest hoteliers, posted a 10% rise in 2014 profit, led by strong growth in its biggest market, the United States.

The group, which owns brands such as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental, said underlying annual operating profit rose to $648m at constant currency rates, on revenue up 6% to $1.67bn.

IHG, which increased its full-year dividend 10% to 77 cents, had been expected by some analysts to signal another share buyback, funded by the €330m sale of its Le Grand InterContinental in Paris.

Like some rivals, IHG has pursued an "asset-light" strategy of selling off its hotels to developers and then managing them under lengthy contracts, an approach that has enabled it to return some $10 billion to shareholders since 2003.
Global revenue per available room, a key industry measure, rose 6.1% in 2014, led by a 7.4% rise in the Americas, where an improving economy in the US has led to higher occupancy rates.

To bolster growth there, IHG recently spent $430m on Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, its first acquisition in more than a decade, to boost its exposure to the fastest-growing boutique hotel sector.

RevPAR rose 5.1% in its European division, with Britain up strongly, while solid performances in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia helped offset the impact of political instability in Thailand within its Asia, Middle East and Africa region.

The group recently acquired the former Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin’s Ballsbridge.

Its Greater China business, where IHG this month opened the first of its new Chinese-specific Hualuxe hotels, recorded RevPAR growth ahead of the market at 1.6%, with business hurt by government austerity measures and protests in Hong Kong.