In line with the Group's stated priorities for the uses of cash and after careful review of its medium term investment requirements, the Board is proposing to maintain the dividend payout ratio for this year at 40%, the top end of the range stated in the IPO prospectus. This will equate to a final dividend of 6.0 pence per share (2018: 5.4 pence per share), which is subject to shareholder approval at the Annual General Meeting. If approved, this will result in a total ordinary dividend per share for the year of 11.8 pence (2018: 10.2 pence), an increase of 15.7%.
The final dividend will be paid, subject to shareholder approval, on 27 March 2020 to shareholders on the register on 6 March 2020. The ex-dividend date will be 5 March 2020.
Other financial highlights include:
Underlying operating profit of £221.1m: up 12.1% at constant currency, and 13.3% at actual exchange rates.
Revenue of £2,794.6m: up 7.8% at constant currency, and 9.0% at actual exchange rates.
Strong net gains of 5.6%: driven by North America and Continental Europe.
Like-for-like sales up 1.9%: driven by growth in passenger numbers, both in air and rail.
Underlying operating margin up 30 basis points at constant currency, driven by further progress on our strategic initiatives.
Underlying profit before tax of £203.2m: up 10.2%. Reported profit before tax of £197.2m, up 7.8%.
Underlying basic earnings per share of 29.1 pence: up 15.9%. Reported basic earnings per share of 28.1 pence, up 12.9%.
Underlying operating cash inflow of £67.9m, after another year of record capital investment of £185.0m.
Encouraging pipeline, with significant new contracts underpinning future growth, including in North America at LaGuardia, San Jose and Ottawa Airports and in the Rest of the World at Brisbane, Shenzhen, and Hongqiao Airports; and entry into three new markets next year: Bahrain, Bermuda and Malaysia.
Share buyback of up to £100m, underpinning our confidence in the business and our commitment to maintain an efficient balance sheet.