LONDON -- The shares of United Utilities (LSE: UU.L) gained 2.6% today as investors sought the company's 4.8% dividend yield.

The FTSE 100 member, which supplies water to 7 million people in the northwest of England, today lifted its first-half payout by 7% to 11.44 pence per share. The improvement takes the group's trailing-12-month payout to 32.74 pence per share.

Today's half-year results from United reiterated the company's policy of targeting dividend advances of Retail Prices Index (a measure of inflation) plus 2% until at least 2015. RPI for October was 3.2%

United's results also showed sales gaining 4% to 823 million pounds, underlying pre-tax profit improving 3% to 190 million pounds, and adjusted earnings rising 5% to 20.9 pence per share.

Steve Mogford, United's chief executive, said: "We have continued to deliver a better service to our customers and invest substantially in our network. Our sustained focus on operational performance across a broad front has seen us make a further improvement on Ofwat's service incentive mechanism, building on a marked improvement last year, coupled with a strong performance on Ofwat's overall KPIs assessment."

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