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Compass northernmost on Footsie after positive first half

Compass northernmost on Footsie after positive first half

Contract catering giant Compass (LON:CPG) was the top riser on Footsie on Wednesday after it reported a positive first half.

The numbers were bolstered by strong growth in North America, where half of the group's business is done, and in emerging markets.

The growth has prompted the firm to announce a plan to return £1 billion to shareholders via a special dividend and ongoing £500mln share buyback.

Richard Cousins, the chief executive, said: "This has been another period of consistent delivery for Compass. 

"Organic revenue growth of over 4% has been driven by strong growth in North America and Fast Growing & Emerging. Encouragingly, economic conditions and new business in Europe & Japan are starting to improve. 

"The operating efficiencies we've generated have enabled us to invest in the many growth opportunities we see, as well as deliver an improvement in the operating margin of 10 basis points, taking it to 7.4%."

As well as the special divi, the board proposes to increase the ordinary interim dividend by 10% to 8.8 pence.

Pre-tax profit for the six months to March 31 came in at £595mln - up 5.7% while revenue wa s £8.7bn - an increase of 4.2%.

Compass shares gained 3.93% to 1,019p.

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