SOFTWARE group Sage has rewarded investors with a near-doubling in its annual dividend payout.
The Newcastle-based company will offer a dividend of 7p a share – up 95% on last year – after adjusted pre-tax profits rose by 14% to £251.3m.
The increase surprised analysts and caused the share price of the FTSE 100 Index firm to leap by almost 7% yesterday.
The surge also reflected soothing comments on future trading, with all trading regions performing in line with hopes.
Sage, which has about 13,000 employees, supplies business management software and services to about 5.5m customers worldwide.
Sage said it passed the £1bn mark for full-year revenues after “excellent performances” in the UK, mainland Europe and the rest of the world. This offset disappointing sales in North America, where the company is looking for a new chief executive.
UK revenues rose by 10% to £224.1m, with the figure 7% higher when excluding the impact of two acquisitions made during the year. Underlying earnings rose to £81.3m from £75.6m last time.
North American arm generated the biggest sales figure for the group, with a series of acquisitions which lifted revenues by 54% to £508.1m.