LONDON -- The FTSE 100 is hovering steady, up just 0.2% to 6,340 as of 8:35 a.m. EST. News of a surprise slowdown in January U.K. retail sales, coupled with nervousness ahead of the G20 meeting, has held the market back.
But we're well into company reporting season now, and a number of FTSE 100 firms have been able to lift their dividends healthily. Here are three members of the top index that have announced bigger payouts this week.
The recovery at Barclays was reinforced by Tuesday's full-year results, which saw the high-street bank raise its dividend by 8.3% from 6 pence to 6.5 pence per share. That's still a good way down from pre-crash levels and represents a yield of only 2.5%, and it only accounts for a fifth of earnings per share, but it's a welcome trend.
Barclays' adjusted pre-tax profit rise of 26% to 7 billion pounds made the payout possible, though after exceptionals including charges for misselling of payment protection insurance and interest rate hedging investments, statutory pre-tax profit was only 246 million pounds. The Barclays share price stands at 320 pence, up 7% on the week.
On Wednesday, Reckitt Benckiser Group announced a 7% rise in its annual dividend to 134 pence per share for a yield of 3% on the current price of 4,437 pence. The company has been steadily lifting its dividend for years, and this week's uplift was backed by a 4% rise in full-year revenue to 9.6 billion pounds at constant exchange rates, with like-for-like sales up 5%.
Reckitt Benckiser has also agreed a three-year deal with U.S. giant Bristol-Myers Squibb for the sale of a range of health care products in Latin America.
Engineering consultancy and services provider AMEC lifted its 2012 dividend by 20% on Thursday to 36.5 pence for a yield of 3.2% on Wednesday's closing price of 1,124 pence. However, despite this uplift and results in line with expectations, the share price fell 7% on the day, and today it's down a bit further to 1,035 pence.
Forecasts for the current year suggest an 11% rise in earnings per share, putting AMEC shares on a forward P/E of 11.4.
Dividend rises like these three are always welcome, and companies that manage steady payouts form the cornerstones of many a portfolio. Whether you're investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome.
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