The Sage Group plc Lifts Dividend By 6%

The shares of Sage (LSE: SGE) climbed 16p to 364p during early trade this morning after the software developer announced it had lifted its full-year dividend by 6%.

The FTSE 100 member confirmed the payout had been raised from 10.68p per share to 11.32p per share.

The dividend development accompanied annual results that showed underlying sales advancing 4% to £1,261m and underlying operating profits gaining 2% to £376m.

Assisted by share buybacks totalling £251m during the year, earnings per share rallied 12% to 22.27p.

Sage noted its American, African, Middle Eastern, Asian and Australian operations all combined to deliver profit growth of between 7% and 8%. The group’s European division experienced profits falling by 1%.

The blue chip also claimed underlying cash conversion was 112%, recurring revenues represented 71% of the top line and contract renewals had improved slightly to 82%.

Guy Berruyer, Sage’s chief executive, said:

I am pleased to report a strong set of results, with good growth across all regions and our strategic initiatives progressing well.  These results highlight the strong appeal of our offering to SMEs, great execution in delivering on our plans and the benefit of a clear strategy, which focuses on our most significant growth opportunities.

Mr Berruyer added that he expected Sage to record 6% organic revenue growth and lift operating margins by one or two percentage points by 2015.

Following this morning’s results and share-price reaction, Sage trades on a P/E of about 16 and yields 3.1%.

Of course, whether those ratings, today's results as well as the wider prospects for the business-software sector all combine to make Sage a 'buy' right now is something only you can decide.

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> Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article.