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Travis Perkins profit rise

LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - British builders' merchant and DIY retailer Travis Perkins (TPK.L) beat forecasts with a 24 percent rise in first-half profit and said it was recommencing paying dividends after a two year gap.

The firm, which earlier this month agreed to buy plumbing and heating company BSS Group (BTSM.L) for about 558 million pounds ($871.6 million), also said on Thursday its second-half had got off to a good start and it viewed the future with confidence.

The group, which trades from over 1,200 branches across the UK under Travis Perkins, Keyline, Wickes and other brand names, made an underlying pretax profit of 111.8 million pounds for the six months to June 30.

That compares with analysts' consensus forecast of 98 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, and 90.4 million pounds in the same period in 2009.

Revenue increased 4.7 percent to 1.52 billion pounds, with sales at branches open at least a year up 3.4 percent as demand picked up, particularly from housebuilders.

Gross margins were slightly lower in the merchanting business and maintained in the retail division.

In July like-for-like sales are 10 percent ahead in merchanting whereas Wickes' core like-for-like sales are down 1.5 percent.

The firm declared an interim dividend of 5 pence per share. It had cancelled shareholder payouts in February 2009 as its markets slumped in the recession.

Shares in Travis Perkins, which have increased 5 percent since the company confirmed its approach for BSS on May 28, closed Wednesday at 830 pence, valuing the business at 1.73 billion pounds.

The purchase of BSS, expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, will create the UK's biggest plumbing and heating trade and retail distribution business.

Source : James Davey - Reuters

29 July 2010
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