LONDON -- The shares of SSE (LSE: SSE ) advanced 10 pence, to 1,426 pence, during early London trade this morning, after the company predicted its full-year dividend would be around 84 pence per share.
SSE, which supplies electricity and gas to 9.5 million customers throughout the country, said the new payout reflected its current policy of lifting the dividend by 2% plus the Retail Price Index measure of inflation.
An 84 pence per share payout would, in fact, be 4.5% higher than the 80.1 pence per share declared by SSE for 2012. It would also be the group's fourteenth successive full-year dividend increase.
SSE's dividend announcement accompanied a third-quarter statement that projected adjusted profits before tax for the current year climbing between 4% and 5%.
SSE reported an adjusted profit before tax of £1,336 million for 2012, suggesting the figure for 2013 could be almost £1,400 million.
SSE's financial performance comes despite an admission that its customers used less electricity and gas during the nine months to December. On a "weather-corrected basis," electricity consumption dropped by 0.1%, and gas consumption dropped by 2.2%.
Ian Marchant, SSE's chief executive, said:
This financial year has been characterised by continuing economic uncertainty and challenging energy market conditions which have affected energy customers and electricity producers alike.
The overall performance of the company has been good in 2012/13 and I'm pleased that SSE is on course to deliver further growth in the dividend and an encouraging increase in adjusted profit before tax in this financial year.
SSE's latest dividend increase places the shares on a prospective income of 5.9%.
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