In March 2020, the Clarkson PLC Board announced that it had deferred its decision on the amount and timing of the 2019 final dividend to give the business the time it needed to assess the financial impact of COVID-19. The Company has clearly risen to the challenges presented and its robust cash position gave the Board confidence to announce in August that the Company would pay the equivalent of the 2019 final dividend of 53p per share as an interim dividend on 21 September 2020 and a further interim dividend for 2020 of 25p per share (2019: 25p per share) on 11 December 2020.
In recognition of the importance of Clarksons' progressive dividend policy, the Company is increasing its dividend for the 18th consecutive year. The Board is recommending a final dividend of 54p (2019: 53p). Combined with the interim dividend in respect of 2020 results of 25p (2019: 25p), the resulting full year dividend in respect of 2020 results is 79p (2019: 78p). The dividend will be payable on 28 May 2021 to shareholders on the register on 14 May 2021, subject to shareholder approval.
Other financial highlights include:
Robust underlying financial performance, ahead of market expectations
Strong performance in Broking more than offset weakness in Financial services
Continued strong free cash flow generation
18th consecutive year of dividend growth
One-off, non-cash impairment charge of £60.6m in relation to securities and offshore
Forward order book going into 2021 is larger than at the same time last year
Robust balance sheet with free cash resources of £81.1m (31 December 2019: £68.7m)
Rapid transition to remote working expedited rollout of Sea/ products to clients
Medium-term macro environment for shipping favourable as demand / supply dynamics set to improve post pandemic
Well positioned to support the green transition in shipping and benefit from the expected economic and global trade recovery