Stagecoach hikes dividend as half-year profits rise

Transport giant Stagecoach today announced an 11.5 per cent hike in its interim dividend as it unveiled a rise in profits for the first six months of the year.

The Perth-based group also predicted that sales at its regional bus operations would continue to grow as more people opt to leave their cars at home amid increasing congestion and rising running costs.

Stagecoach posted a pre-tax profit of £98.5 million for the six months to the end of October, up from £96.8m a year earlier, on revenues 5 per cent higher at £1.47 billion.

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UK bus revenues outside London rose 3.3 per cent to £504.3m, and chief executive Martin Griffiths said low fares were “helping get Britain back on board the bus”.

He added: “Smart ticketing and other developments in new technology are helping make our services more convenient and offer further potential to encourage people to switch from the car to public transport.”

The strongest rise in sales came in North America, up 17.2 per cent to $370.9m (£225.7m), boosted by a 22.9 per cent jump in takings at its Megabus coach operation.

Griffiths said: “The group is in excellent financial shape and we are well placed to capitalise on opportunities to add value for our investors.”

Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 2.9p a share on 5 March, up from 2.6p a year earlier.