Next (LSE: NXT) this morning saidthat it has paid a special dividend of 50p per share, as it announced in a trading statement at the end of December. Next says that the payment is in line with its well-established policy of returning surplus cash to shareholders via share buybacks or special dividends. Nexts share price is up 0.5% at the time of writing.
Back in December Next set an upper limit for share buybacks of 67 per share. Since then, Nexts share price has remained above that level, and the company has therefore been unable to implement any buybacks. So Next today announced that it will be paying a further special dividend of 60p per share on 1 May 2015, with an ex-dividend date of 10 April.
Next says that the 20% increase in the special dividend, from 50p to 60p per share, reflects the companys expectations for cash flow during 2015, but that it does not indicate current trading performance. Next says that it remains cautious and that its not currently changing either its profit guidance or share buyback limit.
Then company says its forecasting around 360m of surplus cash at the lower end of its profit guidance for 2015, and that, if its unable to return cash by means of a buyback scheme, it will do so viafour quarterly special dividends of approximately 90m each. This equates to 60p per share, per quarter, of which the further special announced today will be the first payment.
At 7,125p, Nexts share price is up 16% on this time last year, compared with a rise of 6% in the FTSE 100 in that time. And over the longer term, Next has stormed ahead, with a share price gain of 273%, versus the FTSE 100s 35%.
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