Wm. Morrison Supermarkets plc Lifts Dividend By 10% To Yield 4.3%


The shares of Wm. Morrison Supermarkets (LSE: MRW) gained 5p, or 2%, to 277p during early London trade this morning after the supermarket lifted its annual dividend by 10%.

The payout declared for 2012/3 came in at 11.8p per share, compared with 10.7p per share for 2011/2.

The dividend announcement accompanied full-year results that showed turnover up 3% to £18.1bn and underlying pre-tax profits down 4% to £901m.

Morrisons admitted like-for-like sales declined by 2% during the year, which in part was caused by customer numbers dropping by 400,000 to an average of 11.4 million a week.

However, some £579m spent on buybacks during 2012/3 helped underlying earnings advance 7% to 27.3p per share.

Dalton Philips, the chief executive of Morrisons, said:

"The sustained pressure on consumer spending was reflected in our like-for-like sales performance, which was not as good as it should have been. We have implemented a range of measures to address this and are making good progress in improving our promotional effectiveness and in communicating our points of difference."

Mr Philips also confessed the group's lack of convenience stores and minimal online presence had placed it at a "structural disadvantage". However, he said today that he had upped the target for new convenience stores by 40% and had given the green light to an online food offer for 2014.

Based on today's figures, Morrisons is valued at 10 times earnings and offers a 4.3% income.

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