Auto Trader pays maiden dividend

DividendMax Ltd.

Auto Trader pays maiden dividend

Financial highlights

- Revenue up 8% to £138.2 million (H1 20151: £127.5 million)

- Underlying operating profit2 up 17% to £83.0 million (H1 2015: £70.8 million)

- Reported operating profit up 23% to £82.9 million (H1 2015: £67.5 million)

- Basic EPS from continuing operations of 5.98p per share (H1 2015: 0.95p)

- Operating cash flow of £86.0 million (H1 2015: £58.8 million), representing cash conversion3 of 97% (H1 2015: 76%) of Adjusted underlying EBITDA4

- Net external debt5 down £70.5 million to £457.4 million (March 2015: £527.9 million), representing a reduction in leverage6 to 2.7x (March 2015: 3.4x)

Maiden interim dividend of 0.5 pence per share to be paid in January 2016

Operational highlights

- Consumer audience now five times larger than that of the nearest competitor, as measured by cross platform visits7

- Advert Views per month increased by 9% to 240 million  (H1 2015: 220 million)

- Number of retailer forecourts advertising on Auto Trader marketplace stable at 13,503 (H1 2015: 13,456)

- Average Revenue Per Retailer Forecourt (ARPR) per month up 9% when compared with the same period last year to £1,347 (H1 2015: £1,237)

Capital structure and dividends

On 29 July 2015, the Company completed a reduction of capital, whereby the entire amount outstanding on the Company's share premium account was cancelled and the nominal value of each issued ordinary share in the capital of the Company was reduced from £1.50 to £0.01 each. The capital reduction has created a significant amount of distributable reserves that are available for future dividends and returns to shareholders.

The Board intends to pay an interim dividend of 0.5 pence per share in line with the Group's dividend policy. The interim dividend will be paid on 29 January 2016 to members on the register on 8 January 2016.

The Group's strategy remains that of repaying the term loan until a net external debt leverage of circa 2.0x is achieved, at which point the total annual dividend will be increased to circa 1/3 of net income. Given the Group's focus on the UK and Ireland and ability to grow organically, the Board expects to use surplus cash over and above that committed to dividends to further repay debt or fund share buy-backs. The expectation is that gross debt levels will not be increased during the term of the existing facility.

Companies mentioned