This Yield Proves Too Good to Be True

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LONDON -- Hansard (LSE: HSD.L  ) plunged 21 pence, or 18%, to 97 pence in early London trading this morning after investors realized the share's 12% dividend yield was in fact too good to be true.

The specialist savings provider today announced annual profits had plunged from 17 million pounds to 11 million pounds, although its full-year dividend would be lifted by 1% to 13.9 pence per share. Prior to today, Hansard's shares had been offering a 12% income based on this forthcoming payout.

However, Hansard added that now was "an appropriate time to adjust the dividend to a level commensurate with the surplus cash generated by the business." The firm currently expects to cut the payout for the year to June 2013 by 42% to 8 pence per share.

The dividend chop comes as Hansard struggles in the wake of the eurozone crisis. The "continued instability" of the single currency caused single-premium new business sales to slump 53% to 51 million pounds, and the group admitted it did not anticipate the position to be improved within the next few years.

Also in the mix is litigation in Norway, whereby the company has suffered an adverse ruling in relation to writs of 11 million pounds. Hansard anticipates "continuing additional expenditure" to address existing and new cases concerning "the selection and performance of assets/"

Right now, Hansard's yield at 97 pence is 8%. That income is well above that offered by the wider FTSE, but this 133 million-pound market-cap business does have its issues.

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Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article.

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