Supermarket chain Morrisons (MRW) was the biggest riser among FTSE 100 stocks on Thursday after handing investors bumper dividends following a surge in profit in the first half of the year.

The company saw its share price rally 4.6% to 202.9p after increasing its half year payout to shareholders by 4.3% to 1.93p, but the real surprise was an extra 2p per share special dividend on top.

‘Reflecting our growth opportunities, sustained profit and cash flow progress, and future expectations, we are today announcing a further special dividend of 2p per share,’ the company said.

For the six months ended 30 June 2019 statutory pre-tax was up 48.5% to £202m despite total revenue barely moving at all, nudging just 0.4% to £8.83b. Like-for-like sales, which strip out petrol sales and VAT, rose just 0.2%.

TOUGH TARGETS TO BEAT

< The modest uptick in revenue was blamed on strong comparatives, as last year’s results were boosted by very favourable summer weather and events such as the World Cup and royal wedding.

But this year's summer weather was largely unfavourable and there were no similar events to boost sales, the company said.

Looking ahead, the company said it sees meaningful and sustainable growth opportunities ahead, and announced extensions of its wholesale supply partnerships with Amazon and Rontec, and two new partnerships, with Harvest Energy in the UK, and LuLu in the Middle East.

‘We remain on track for our medium-term target of £75m to £125m incremental profit from wholesale, services, interest and online,’ the company said.

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Issue Date: 12 Sep 2019