Revenue of the ongoing businesses was 5.4% ahead of 2011, with trading profit 10.4% ahead of last year. While there was some weakness in continental Europe, the U.K. market enjoyed a recovery and there was good growth in the U.S. and Canada.
Headline earnings per share rose 17.8% to 168.4 pence, and sales of businesses enabled net debt to be reduced by £568 million, leading to net cash generation of £45 million. As a result, the proposed final dividend will be 40 pence per share -- 33.3% up on last year -- and £350 million will be returned to shareholders via a special dividend. A share consolidation is also planned, with details to come at November's AGM.
Ian Meakins, chief executive, commented:
Demand across our markets remains mixed and the economic outlook continues to be uncertain. Revenue growth rates in the new financial year have been similar to the fourth quarter of last year. We will continue to reduce our cost base to protect profitability but also to make investments in our businesses that will improve the quality of our operations and generate growth in the future. While we remain cautious about the outlook for our markets, we are confident that Wolseley will make good progress in the year ahead.
With the sizable hike in the dividend, Wolseley will be yielding around 2.25% this year. Better still, another 4.5% will come from the special dividend expected in December. While the special dividend is obviously not recurring, it's a good indication of the company's commitment to reward shareholders.
The income from dividends can make a huge difference to your portfolio's performance, so you should take a close look at ace stock-picker Neil Woodford, whose income yielding selections delivered an impressive 347% total return -- and thrashed the wider market -- during the 15 years to December 31, 2011.
What's more, you can discover the shares he now holds in "8 Shares Held by Britain's Super Investor". You can download this free Fool report about market legend Woodford today. But hurry, the report is available for a limited time only.
Are you looking to profit from this uncertain economy? "10 Steps to Making a Million in the Market" is the very latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- it's free.
Further Motley Fool investment opportunities: