Raine payout slashed

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SHARES in Raine Industries fell 6p to 84p as the housing and contracting group surprised the City by slashing the final dividend by 25 per cent.

The news came as Raine reported lower than expected taxable profits, up slightly from pounds 10m to pounds 10.8m for the year to 30 June on turnover up from pounds 363.6m to pounds 446.2m. 'It was not just the dividend cut that was surprising,' one analyst said. 'The underlying performance of the operations was also disappointing.'

The final dividend of 1p is down from 4p. It makes 3p for the year, against 6p. 'It is disappointing to have to recommend to shareholders that the dividend should be reduced after so many years of recession,' Peter Parkin, chairman, said.

However, earnings rose 16.4 per cent to 4.34p, and a reduction in net borrowing to pounds 26.2m lowered gearing from 34.6 per cent to 22.3 per cent.

UK house sales rose by 37 per cent to 3,337 units. West Venture, the housing operation in California, continued to be hit by recession and it is Raine's long-term aim to move out of the state.

Profits from the contracting sector were unchanged. Mr Parkin said growth prospects were increasing but margin improvement was unlikely in the short term.