(Adds CEO, analyst comments)
By Li-mei Hoang
LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - Aggreko, the world’s biggest provider of temporary power generators, will return 200 million pounds ($334 million) to shareholders on top of a 10 percent increase in its dividend for 2013.
The British firm, which is looking for a new chief executive, also forecast trading profit this year to be similar to 2013 after a year in which pretax profits fell 8 percent.
Shares in Aggreko leapt by 8 percent to 1,696 pence by 1121 GMT, making it the second highest riser in the FTSE 100 index after insurer Aviva.
“The outlook is better than we had feared with management guiding to flat trading profit - which is about 7 to 8 percent better than we had in,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Andrew Brooke.
The company said profits were down in 2013 due to the impact of lower revenues from military work in Afghanistan and post-Fukushima reconstruction in Japan, as well as the absence of revenues from the 2012 London Olympics, a contract worth 60 million pounds.
Pretax profit fell to 338 million pounds from 365 million, slightly ahead of analyst forecasts of 333.76 million pounds, according to Reuters data.
“2013 proved to be challenging year. However against a number of headwinds, we were able to deliver a creditable performance,” Chief Financial Officer Angus Cockburn said.
“Overall the business has performed in line with our expectations. For the full year we expect trading profits to be similar to 2013 on a constant currency basis as growth in the local business is offset by weaker trading in power projects,” Cockburn added.
Despite lower profits net cash from operations rose in 2013 to 603 million pounds from 479 million in 2012. Aggreko proposed an increase in its dividend to 26.30 pence per share for the year and said it would also return 200 million pounds ($334.61 million) to shareholders in June, the equivalent of 75p each.
Last week, British outsourcer Serco named Aggreko CEO Rupert Soames, who had increased the company’s market capitalisation by ten-fold, as its new chief executive to help restore profits and its reputation following high-profile government contract failures.
Soames, a grandson of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, will leave Aggreko after the Annual General Meeting on April 24.
Chief Financial Officer Angus Cockburn will assume the role on an interim basis while a search for a successor, internally and externally, is conducted. ($1 = 0.5977 British pounds) (Editing by Neil Maidment and Elaine Hardcastle)