The Avon Rubber Board is recommending a final dividend of 13.89p per share (2018: 10.68p) which together with the 6.94p per share interim dividend gives a total dividend of 20.83p (2018: 16.02p), up 30% on last year. The final dividend will be paid on 13 March 2020 to shareholders on the register at 14 February 2020 with an ex-dividend date of 13 February 2020.
Our policy is to maintain a progressive dividend policy balancing dividend increases with the rates of adjusted earnings per share growth achieved, taking into account potential acquisition spend and the Group's financing position. Over recent years, they have grown the dividend per share by 30% per annum and expect to continue to grow dividends ahead of earnings over the medium-term. Their policy is to maintain dividend cover (the ratio of dividend per share to adjusted earnings per share) above two times. This year dividend cover was 4.4 times (2018: 4.8 times). Once dividend cover has reduced to two times we intend to increase dividends in line with the growth in adjusted earnings per share.
Other financial highlights include:
Strong financial delivery - revenue up 4.2%, adjusted operating profit up 10.4% and adjusted earnings per share up 14.1% - all ahead of expectations
Operating profit and basic earnings per share impacted by exceptional items, up £12.4m, due to the Fire SCBA exit , one-off pension benefit equalisation, and acquisition costs
Avon Protection revenue grew by 5.9% with Military revenue growing by 26.1%
First deliveries of higher margin M53A1 mask systems and lower volumes of lower margin M50 systems, contributed to adjusted EBITDA margin growing to 22.0%
Adjusted basic earnings per share up 14.1% to 91.7p, benefitting from a reduced tax rate of 10.8%
Operating cash conversion from adjusted EBITDA of 63.5%, impacted by the timing of the fulfilment of the $16.6m Rest of World mask contract, resulting in net cash of £48.3m up £1.8m