Abbott Mead raises interim payout 7%

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The Independent Online
ABBOTT Mead Vickers, the advertising agency best known for its Sainsbury's and Yellow Pages campaigns, is shrugging off tough trading conditions to boost its interim dividend 7 per cent to 3p, writes Neil Thapar.

The increase - the first in the sector - comes despite a fall in taxable profits from pounds 1.9m to pounds 1.5m for the half-year to 30 June.

David Abbott, chairman, said the payout reflected confidence in the group's medium-term prospects and a strong balance sheet, with net cash of more than pounds 6m.

New business won totalled about pounds 40m on an annualised basis, thanks to commissions from several clients including Weetabix, ICL and Adidas. In addition the group is pitching for another pounds 40m of new business.

However, the agency ran up additional costs initially to win the business, pushing operating profits down from pounds 1.5m to pounds 1.23m. But the new work is expected to result in a higher profits contribution in the second half.

Mr Abbott said that costs were being kept under tight control.

Lower bank rates reduced interest income from pounds 400,000 to pounds 310,000. Earnings per share fell from 8.63p to 6p. The shares eased back 5p to 365p.

Results published yesterday for Lopex, the advertising agency, were for the half-year to 30 June.