March 4, 2020 / 8:04 AM / a month ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Vivo Energy reports solid growth, doubles final dividend

(Refiles to correct typo in headline)

March 4 (Reuters) - African fuel retailer Vivo Energy said on Wednesday its annual adjusted core earnings rose 8% due to higher sales at its Engen and Shell-branded filling stations as the company continued to expand its network rapidly.

Vivo Energy, Dutch energy firm Vitol Group’s African fuel retail venture, bolstered its network of stations last year after it acquired a unit of South African retailer Engen Ltd.

Vivo, which also doubled its final dividend for 2019, now operates in 23 countries across Africa.

The company, which has a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, said its sales for the year rose to 10.42 billion litres from 9.35 billion litres a year earlier, after integration of the new Engen-branded markets.

The fuel distributor aims to open 80-100 net new sites in 2020 and expects mid-single digit gross cash profit percentage growth for the year.

Vivo last year signalled to reduce its exposure to Morocco, its largest retail market, following civil protests in the country against higher fuel prices. Core earnings contribution in 2019 from its Moroccan retail fuels business fell to 13% from 18% a year earlier, the company said.

Vivo’s adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose to $431 million for the year ended Dec. 31, compared with $400 million a year ago.

It also recommended a final dividend of 2.7 cents per share, up from 1.3 cents in 2018, bringing the full-year dividend to 3.8 cents, 15% higher than a year earlier. (Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham and Vinay Dwivedi)

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