The directors are proposing a final dividend of 12.34 $ cent per share representing an increase of 5% on the 2018 final dividend of 11.75 $ cent per share. This represents 5% growth in the total dividend for the year to 16.80 $ cent per share. This continues the Group's 30 year history of consistently increasing dividends.
Other financial highlights include:
Adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased by 5% (7% on a constant currency basis, at the top end of the Group's FY19 EPS guidance).
Underlying net revenue growth of 5%. Total net revenue increased by 1% on constant currency basis.
Underlying adjusted operating profit growth of 5%. Total adjusted operating profit increased by 9% on a constant currency basis, reflecting continued growth in Ashfield and Sharp.
o Ashfield's operating profit increased by 13% on a constant currency basis driven by a combination of underlying growth in Ashfield Communications and Advisory, and the benefit of acquisitions.
o Sharp's operating profit increased by 8% on a constant currency basis driven by the continued strong performance of Sharp US.
Adjusted net operating margin increased from 13.1% to 14.2%.
Strong cash flow performance with a positive working capital inflow and free cash flow conversion rate of 83%.
Net debt to EBITDA of 0.4x, with $80.5 million net debt at 30 September 2019.
$137 million committed to strategic acquisitions in 2019, strengthening the Group's capabilities and service offering:
o Putnam Associates and Incisive Health acquired in May 2019, and have performed well since acquisition.
o Acquired Canale Communications, a US based scientific strategic communications agency, for up to $31 million, post year end in November 2019.