Ahead of its upcoming annual general meeting, West African Portland Cement PLC, a subsidiary of Lafarge SA Group, says it will pay about N900 million dividends to shareholders for the last financial year after three years of non payment of dividend.
The company’s Finance Director, Mr.Wole Adeleke, who disclosed this to newsmen weekend in Lagos, said the proposed dividend was in line with the promises the Board made to shareholders last year when WAPCO’s Rights Issue of 1,286,400,004 ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N8.00 per share was launched. The rights issue, it would be recalled, was open on May 9, and closed June 15, 2005.
Based on this, he said, the Board had resolved to propose to shareholders at the forthcoming 47th annual general meeting scheduled for May 23, 2006 a dividend pay-out of 30 kobo per every ordinary share. The company, he said, currently had 3,001,600,004 fully paid up ordinary shares.
Highlighting the company’s operating performance for the year under review, the Finance Director said: “There was a dramatic return to profitability by the company as indicated by the significant growth in both turnover and operating profit.”
He said turnover for 2005 increased by 21 per cent to N26.6 billion compared to N22.1 billion recorded in 2004. “Operating profit grew by 112 per cent to N6.1 billion compared to N2.9 billion achieved in 2004. The growth in operating profit is an indication of the successes recorded in revamping the operations of the company. The last time the company recorded a profit before taxation was three years ago. The year 2005, however, turned out to be eventful as the company turned the corner as it recorded a profit before taxation of N3.18 billion from a loss of N3.16 billion at the end of 2004. This has been made possible by the careful management of the debt portfolio of the Company, which has resulted in a significant reduction in interest expenses allowing operating profit to flow into shareholders’ fund.
“The result for 2005 demonstrates very clearly the benefits to the company of the major restructuring efforts undertaken in the last 24 months.
Despatches of cement achieved in 2005 were 6 per cent above the volume recorded for 2004. The improved sales volume, cost reduction and other reorganisation efforts led to the significant increase in operating profit compared with 2004.