Wolseley plc Declares £300m Special Dividend

The shares of Wolseley (LSE: WOS) gained 51p to 3,248p during early trade this morning after the group declared a £300m special dividend within its 2013 annual results.

Wolseley, which claims to be the world’s largest distributor of heating and plumbing products, revealed the special payout alongside a full-year dividend that was raised 10% to 66p per share.

The dividend details accompanied news of underlying sales gaining 4% to £12.8bn and underlying trading profits advancing 11% to £725m. Headline earnings gained 8% to 182p per share.

The primary operating highlight was the group’s US performance, where sales climbed 10% to £6.8bn and profits improved by 27% to £492m.

Positive progress was also reported in Canada and the UK, but profit setbacks occurred throughout the group’s European units.

Looking ahead, Wolseley’s chief executive, Ian Meakins, said:

“Our markets in the US continue to grow steadily and the UK market growth is encouraging.  However, economic conditions in Continental Europe are very challenging and we expect them to remain so for the foreseeable future.

Mr Meakins also revealed revenue growth during the new financial year had been similar to the 3.7% recorded during the fourth quarter of last year.

Following this morning’s price reaction, these results indicate Wolseley’s shares trade at 17.8 times earnings and offer a yield of 2.0%.

Of course, whether that valuation, today's results, the forthcoming £300m special dividend and the general prospects for heating and plumbing distributors all currently combine to make Wolseley a 'buy' right now is something only you can decide.

But if you currently own Wolseley shares and are seeking an alternative growth opportunity, the Fool's top analysts have named one company they believe will bring you superior capital gains…

…and such is their conviction, they have declared the share "The Fool's Top Growth Stock Today".

Simply click here for the full report -- it's free.

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