Henry Boot cuts divi despite profit rising to £49m

Sheffield-based property investment and construction group Henry Boot plc said on Thursday its revenue fell 4% to £379.7 million in the year ended December 31, 2019, “primarily following the successful completion in August of the £333m TECA project, Aberdeen.”

Henry Boot said profit before tax edged 1% higher to £49.1 million “led by strong performance of our land promotion business.”

The firm is proposing to cut its final dividend to 1.3p, down from 5.8p, giving a total for the year of 5p — about 56% of the full-year 2018 total of 9p — “reduced to preserve cash in unprecedented challenging times.”

The company said it has a “clear plan of reducing outgoings and managing cashflow, including paying only 50% of all group 2019 declared bonuses, and a 20% reduction in salary and fees of the main board.”

Henry Boot added: “As noted in our operations update on 3 April 2020, the group is currently unable to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on its financial and trading performance for the current year.

“As a result, we have suspended all existing financial guidance until clarity returns.”

Henry Boot CEO Tim Roberts said: “There is no doubt that COVID-19 has caused significant economic and social disruption, and as such is materially affecting the group’s near-term trading.

“However, with no debt, cash in the bank, and our business cutting out unnecessary expenditure, coupled with reducing activity, we have a clear and effective plan to get through these uncertain times.

“Long term, we have extensive operational skills, which we believe will continue to provide valued services to customers in key markets such as residential, manufacturing and logistics and urban development.

“We also have a construction business with a bias to public sector investment in areas such as health, education and urban regeneration.

“These are all sustainable markets, so we also have a firm eye on the future success of the business.”