3 FTSE 100 Shares Going Ex-Dividend: British Land Company PLC, Imperial Tobacco Group PLC and Ashtead Group plc

The FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) is off to a bit of a shaky start in the New Year, dropping 31 points in its 2014 opening session yesterday to finish on 6,718, and hovering just two points above that at 6,720 approaching midday today.

But 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 into January the number of firms going ex-dividend is low, but here are three reaching their crucial dates over the next couple of weeks:

British Land Company

British Land Company (LSE: BLND) goes ex-dividend on Wednesday with respect to a second quarter dividend. Announced on 13 November, the 6.75p per share will bring the payment for the first half up to 13.5p. It accompanies a 6.6% rise in pre-tax profit to £146m, with a 4.5% rise in net asset value to 623p per share.

With the real estate investment trust’s dividends nicely predictable, the full year should bring in a total of 27p, up 2.3%. On today’s price of 619p, that would represent a yield of 4.3%. The shares themselves are up only around 8% over the past 12 months, lagging the FTSE’s 12%.

Imperial Tobacco

It’s ex-dividend time for Imperial Tobacco Group (LSE: IMT) (NASDAQOTH: ITYBY.US) a week later, on 15 January, and this time it’s a final dividend of 81.2p per share. That takes the annual total to 116.4p for a 10% rise on the previous year, and providing a 5% yield on the latest 2,330p share price.

Part of the reason for that high yield is the Imperial share price fall over the past year — it’s down around 3%. Forecasts for the year to September 2014 suggest a stronger dividend yield of 5.4%, but earnings rises have been steadily slowing in recent years and we only have 2% growth predicted this time.


On the same day, Wednesday 15 January, it will be interim ex-dividend time for Ashtead Group (LSE: AHT). The industrial rental firm is set to pay 2.25p per share for the half-year to 31 October, which is 50% higher than the same half the previous year. First-half underlying earnings per share also rose by the same 50%, to 26.7p, after underlying pre-tax profit grew 49% to £212.3m.

Ashtead’s shares are up more than 75% over the past 12 months, and with a 35% rise in full-year EPS forecast, they’re on a forward P/E of 18 now — but that would drop to 15 based on 2015 predictions. Dividends are low, with a 1.3% yield expected for the full year.

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> Alan does not own shares in any company mentioned.