G8 Education investors can expect a 20 per cent "pay" increase from the childcare centre operator next year, backed by a bumper profit forecast.
The Gold Coast-based company, headed by one-time tourism industry entrepreneur Chris Scott, has forecast EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) to exceed by up to 5 per cent the $101 million average forecast by the 11 analysts who monitor the company.
The result will compare with EBIT of $49.4 million in calendar 2013, which at the time was up 68 per cent from a year earlier.
The surge in profitability, driven by another big year of acquisitions, has led G8 to boost its annual dividend to shareholders by 20 per cent.
This time last year, G8 was paying a quarterly dividend of 3.5c a share for an annual payout of 12c a share over 2013.
This quarter, it is lifting its quarterly dividend to 6c a share fully franked up from 5c in the September quarter and taking the 2015 payout to an annualised 24c a share from 20c in 2014.
The boosted dividend will come in the next quarterly payment cycle, due in January.
"G8 continues to be well positioned and this increase reflects the strong performance of G8 educations operations," says managing director Chris Scott.
The company now has 437 childcare centres in Australia with a daily licence capacity of 31,156 children.
This time last year G8 had just 233 childcare centres and 17,538 childcare places.
G8 posted a record $31.1 million profit in the 12 months to the end of December 2013, up 62 per cent from a year earlier.
The company's shares resumed trading Thursday after a two-day halt pending the dividend and guidance announcement.
They jumped 5.8 per cent to $4.51 with more than 4.1 million shares changing hands.
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