Pre-tax profits rose by just pounds 200,000 to pounds 64.1m in the 40 weeks to 11 July, but earnings per share were down slightly at 9.2p (9.3p) because of a higher tax charge.
Sir James Watson, the chairman, said the results demonstrated the group's robustness in the face of recession. He added that NFC was making promising progress overseas.
He said that property sales had inflated fourth-quarter figures last year, accounting for the expected drop this year.
'We need to see some improvement in the economy pretty quickly, but there's no sign of it at the moment,' he said.
The third-quarter dividend is 1.55p (1.50p), making 4.25p for the first three quarters, a 6 per cent increase over last year.
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