Another generous dividend payout by BAT


British American Tobacco (M) Bhd (BAT), which reported yesterday an increase in 2002 profits that exceeded market expectations, has proposed another generous dividend payout to its shareholders.  

The company's proposed final dividend of 116 sen gross per share for the year ended Dec 31, 2002, brings the total payout for the year to 216 sen per share, compared with 245.4 sen the year before. The 2001 figure was higher because it was boosted by a special dividend of 50 sen per share.  

For its 2002 financial year, BAT recorded an increase of 9.5% in pre-tax profit to RM920.34mil from RM840.3mil in the preceding year on a small 2.1% rise in turnover to RM3.07bil from RM3.01bil. Net profit rose to RM662.88mil from RM607.69mil. 

Basic earnings per share for 2002 increased by 9% to 232.2 sen per share.  

For the fourth quarter to Dec 31, 2002, BAT's pre-tax profit came in at RM212.13mil on revenue of RM632.21mil, compared with a pre-tax profit of RM203.9mil on turnover of RM723.72mil a year earlier. Net profit for the quarter was RM152.25mil versus RM145.03mil previously. 

The improved results were the result of higher domestic sales volumes and product price increases implemented in October 2001, partially offset by lower contract manufacturing and duty-free volumes. 

BAT said industry volumes last year were marginally higher than in 2001 but the trend this year would not become clear until after the first quarter. “The growth will be driven by the economic environment and the level of unauthorised products,'' it said in a statement to the KLSE yesterday. 

The company said its market share had stabilised compared with the previous year. Its Dunhill brand had continued to see steady growth in market share and volume in 2002, aided by new packaging. Its Pall Mall brand had performed beyond expectations while its Kent brand had performed well in its target market. 

BAT said the new Dunhill packaging would be extended this year to include Lights, Menthol Lights and Menthol Full Flavour, and this was expected to support the brand's steady growth. 

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