LONDON -- The FTSE 100
There haven't been any big risers in the top shares index today, though, and all the big gains have been in the LSE's indexes of smaller companies.
The return of the dividend
The main excitement was a return to paying a dividend -- 3 pence per share. Dividends were suspended in 2009 as the economic downturn led to falling demand, and the firm went into a two-year restructuring program. It's out of that now, and we saw underlying pretax profit grow by 11%, to 59.7 million pounds, even though sales fell by 1.2%. Key parts of the turnaround strategy included reducing the size of its fleet, primarily in Spain, and raising its prices.
The dividend yield might only be a modest 1.5%, but with debt falling by 159 million pounds to 371 million pounds and operating margins boosted to 23.2%, this looks like a nice recovery story.
Mediterranean Oil & Gas
The Italian government had issued a ban on some oil and gas exploration in some of its coastal waters, and that had hurt the explorer, which operates exclusively in the central Mediterranean region. But today we received a clarification that the ban does not affect licenses that had already been issued or applications that were already under review at the time of the original announcement.
Hopefully this will make things brighter for investors, who have seen the share price sliding over the past year.
The share price has been rather erratic of late, so maybe it's just noise -- or maybe someone out there thinks they know something!
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