LONDON -- The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES:^FTSE) is hovering steady, up just 0.2% to 6,340 as of 8:35 a.m. EST. News of a surprise slowdown in January U.K. retail sales, coupled with nervousness ahead of the G20 meeting, has held the market back.
But we're well into company reporting season now, and a number of FTSE 100 firms have been able to lift their dividends healthily. Here are three members of the top index that have announced bigger payouts this week.
Barclays (LSE:BARC) (NYSE:BCS)
The recovery at Barclays was reinforced by Tuesday's full-year results, which saw the high-street bank raise its dividend by 8.3% from 6 pence to 6.5 pence per share. That's still a good way down from pre-crash levels and represents a yield of only 2.5%, and it only accounts for a fifth of earnings per share, but it's a welcome trend.
Barclays' adjusted pre-tax profit rise of 26% to 7 billion pounds made the payout possible, though after exceptionals including charges for misselling of payment protection insurance and interest rate hedging investments, statutory pre-tax profit was only 246 million pounds. The Barclays share price stands at 320 pence, up 7% on the week.
Reckitt Benckiser (LSE:RB)
On Wednesday, Reckitt Benckiser Group announced a 7% rise in its annual dividend to 134 pence per share for a yield of 3% on the current price of 4,437 pence. The company has been steadily lifting its dividend for years, and this week's uplift was backed by a 4% rise in full-year revenue to 9.6 billion pounds at constant exchange rates, with like-for-like sales up 5%.
Reckitt Benckiser has also agreed a three-year deal with U.S. giant Bristol-Myers Squibb for the sale of a range of health care products in Latin America.
Engineering consultancy and services provider AMEC lifted its 2012 dividend by 20% on Thursday to 36.5 pence for a yield of 3.2% on Wednesday's closing price of 1,124 pence. However, despite this uplift and results in line with expectations, the share price fell 7% on the day, and today it's down a bit further to 1,035 pence.
Forecasts for the current year suggest an 11% rise in earnings per share, putting AMEC shares on a forward P/E of 11.4.
Dividend rises like these three are always welcome, and companies that manage steady payouts form the cornerstones of many a portfolio. Whether you're investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome.
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