Shareholders in Serco are getting their first dividend in six years after the outsourcing giant triumphantly returned to growth.
It will pay investors 1p per share after its recovery plans finally hit ‘escape velocity’, with boss Rupert Soames hailing it as an important milestone.
The payout has been a long time coming, and lifted shares by 4.7 per cent, or 7.1p, to 157.8p.
Serco, which provides services from staffing prisons to building military facilities, was laid low in 2014 when it was caught charging the Government for electronically monitoring criminals who were either dead or in jail.
Dividend: Serco will pay investors 1p per share after its recovery plans finally hit ‘escape velocity’, with boss Sir Rupert Soames hailing it as an important milestone
But in 2019 revenues jumped from £2.8billion to £3.2billion, its first growth in annual sales since 2013.
Profits also rose, from £74.1million to £80.7million. Soames, 60, said: ‘All this indicates that we have finally achieved escape velocity, leaving behind the gravitational pull of past mis-steps, and gives the board confidence to recommend paying a dividend for the first time since 2014.’
Restaurant Group investors were not so lucky. It fell 7.2p, or 8.5p, to 109p after it axed its dividend.
The business, which owns chains Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito and Wagamama, slumped from a £13.9million profit to a loss of £37.3million in 2019.
Bosses said it would reduce the number of restaurants it had from 350 to between 260 and 275 as it battles falling sales. The move will put about 1,100 jobs at risk.
McColl’s crashed to record lows after also scrapping its divi. The convenience store owner took the decision after swinging from a £7.9million annual profit to a £98.6million loss in 2019.
Stock Watch – Intu
Shopping centre owner Intu has persuaded its lenders to extend its £440million overdraft, allowing it to stay afloat.
But it was able to access the vital cash only on the condition it will go cap-in-hand to investors for another £1.3billion.
The struggling property firm, which has been hammered by the downturn on the High Street, said the extension of the loan was a ‘key milestone in addressing our near-term refinancing needs’.
Yesterday its shares fell 7.3 per cent, or 1.09p, to 13.86p.
Shares hit an all-time low of 35p before closing down 15.3 per cent, or 6.6p, at 36.5p.
The FTSE 100 climbed 24.59 points to 7042.27 while the FTSE 250 fell 93.02 points to 20,622.95.
It was a rollercoaster day for the London Stock Exchange, as traders were rattled by rumours that its ‘transformational’ deal with data provider Refinitiv might fall foul of regulators.
Shares fell as much as 6 per cent before recovering to end 0.1pc higher, or 4p, at 8076p, following a report that EU competition regulators in Brussels were going over the LSE’s £22billion takeover of Refinitiv with a fine-tooth comb.
The two companies need the green light before the deal can complete.
But unexpectedly strong interest in the pre-notification phase – where concerns are raised before a formal probe begins – has caused hold-ups. Any delays will be a blow for shareholders.
Shares in Weir Group surged by 11.2 per cent, or 140.5p, to 1391p after the engineering giant hung a ‘for sale’ sign over its struggling oil and gas business.
The Scottish company, which has suffered from falling demand for pumping kit in North America, is writing £546million off the value of the division.
It said it would focus on mining technology, particularly equipment that cuts the carbon emissions of the industry and helps meet global demand for metals for batteries.
Boss Jon Stanton told the BBC: ‘The mining industry is under a lot of pressure to become more sustainable. We’re the engineer with the technology that can help the industry transform itself.’
The move came as it revealed a £372million loss for 2019, compared to an £86million profit the previous year.
Meanwhile security contractor G4S was up by 3.4 per cent, or 6.3p, to 193.8p after selling its cash-handling arm to US rival Brinks for £660million.
Eddie Stobart, the troubled haulage business, returned to the stock market yesterday after a six-month absence – but traders were not happy to see it.
After it unveiled a brutal £200million loss for the six months to May 31, 2019, shares plummeted 83.2 per cent, or 59.1p, to 11.9p.
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