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3 FTSE 100 Shares Going Ex-Dividend: United Utilities Group PLC, Burberry Group plc and BT Group plc

Burberry

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is having a terrible old time, having fallen for five weeks in a row and looking like it could be extending that run to six weeks. The index of top UK shares is now down 348 points (5.1%) from the 13-year high of 6,876 it set in May, to 6,528.

If you focus on dividends, you can simply ignore these week-by-week ups and downs — but do be sure to hold on to your shares until they pass their ex-dividend date if you want to be eligible for the cash. As we head towards Christmas the number of firms going ex-dividend is dropping, but here are three reaching their crucial dates before the reindeer arrive:

United Utilities

United Utilities Group (LSE: UU) will be going ex-dividend on Wednesday 18 December with respect to interim cash of 12.01p per share.

For the six months to 30 September, United Utilities saw its revenue grow by 3.7% to £853.3m and recorded an underlying operating profit rise of 8.8% to £341.7m. The interim dividend of 12.01p per share represents a 5% gain on the first half a year ago, and the same boost to its final payment should give us 36.03p per share for a yield of 5.6% on the current share price of 646p.

Burberry

For Burberry Group (LSE: BRBY) the day is Wednesday 23 December, and the dividend is also an interim one, of 8.8p.

The upmarket fashion purveyor’s first six months were good, with revenue up 17% to £1,031m. Adjusted pre-tax profit was only £1m up at £174m, but that was better than the firm’s guidance. The dividend represented a rise of 10% over last year’s first half.

Forecasts for the full year suggest a total payment of 32p per share, and at today’s price of 1,485p that would yield a modest 2.2%.

BT

BT Group (LSE: BT-A) (NYSE: BT.US) also goes ex-dividend on 23 December, with a payment of 3.4p per share lined up, and it’s another interim one.

First-half results, again to 30 September, were pretty mixed, and the 13% dividend hike outstripped a small rise in adjusted earnings per share of 3% to 11.9p — but there’s plenty of cover there. Adjusted pre-tax profit was up by the same 3% margin, to £1,204m, after revenue dropped 1% to £8,940m.

As BT’s share price has been rising, so its dividend yield has been falling. The shares are currently changing hands for 372p, and the forecast full-year dividend of 10.9p per share suggests a yield of 2.9%.

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> Alan does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Burberry.