Reuters ups payout after five-year freeze

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The Independent Online

The information provider Reuters Group unveiled surprisingly strong sales over the first half of this year, told the City that revenues for the full year will be better than previously expected, and lifted its dividend for the first time in five years yesterday.

Revenues of almost £1.3bn were 12 per cent higher than this time last year, bolstered by acquisitions and greater contributions from stock exchanges for selling their information to Reuters' clients. Allowing for currency fluctuations, sales were up 9 per cent.

The company, led by the chief executive Tom Glocer, expects revenues to grow over the full year by between 5 per cent and 6 per cent.

Mr Glocer said: "It has been an encouraging first half. As we transition from recovery to growth, we delivered a 9 per cent increase in revenues while strong cost discipline has given us room to invest."

The interim dividend was raised 6.5 per cent to 4.1p per share. Operating profits from continued activities grew to £122m in the six months to the end of June, up from £105m in the first half of 2005. Reuters shares, which have declined 16 per cent this year, improved 19.25p to 396.75p, valuing the group at £5.2bn.

Lorna Tilbian, a media analyst at Numis Securities, said: "The big surprise was the hike in the divvy. They must have clearer visibility going forward and are more confident of the future."

Founded in 1851, Reuters had enjoyed a global monopoly of the provision of financial information before it was challenged in the early 1990s by Bloomberg.

Mr Glocer's recovery plan saw him commit to invest in new markets, content and services last year after disposing of or closing more than 80 parts of Reuters' business over three years.