Wed City brief: ITV special divi; Greggs strong start

The FTSE100 ended a three-day losing streak to close 0.4% higher at 6,919.24, boosted by ITV, up 5.7% after unveiling a £250m special dividend.

The index rose later after trading as low as 6,862.87 points in the early part of the session.

The leading index has rallied more than 10% since mid-January, fuelled by anticipation of the European Central Bank’s stimulus programme, details of which were set to be announced on Thursday.

So far this earnings season, 58% of FTSE 100 companies have reported results that met or beat expectations.

The pick of today’s results are:

ITV: A special dividend of of 6.25p will be paid to shareholders, totalling £250m. Pre-tax profits for 2014 were up 39% from £435 million to £605m, the fifth consecutive year of double digit profit growth. Total revenue increased 7% in 2014 to £2.956 billion (2013: £2.753bn). The board is proposing a final dividend for 2014 of 3.3p, which equates to a full year dividend of 4.7p (2013: 3.5p), up 34%. ITV says the television advertising outlook remains positive.

GREGGS: The year has started strongly and like-for-like sales in the eight weeks to 28 February 2015 have grown by 6.3% as consumers enjoy higher disposable income. Pre-tax profits at the bakery chain in 2014 excluding exceptionals rocketed by 41.1% to £58.3m (2013: £41.3m) on sales up 5.5% to £804m (2013: £762.4m). The board is recommending a final dividend of 16p per share (2013: 13.5p), giving a total for the year of 22p, an increase of 12.8% (2013: 19.5p). The company has already said it will return up to £10m to shareholders in the first half of 2015 and will do so through a resumption of its share buyback programme.

LEGAL & GENERAL: Operating profit up 10% to £1.275bn (2013: £1.158bn), full year dividend up 21% to 11.25p (2013: 9.3p). Dividend per share has grown almost threefold from 3.84p five years ago. See story here.



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