Interactive Investor

Imperial Brands: high-yield and recovery potential

18th May 2021 08:59

Keith Bowman from interactive investor

There's been a positive reaction to these half-year results and the 8% dividend yield is attractive. 

Tobacco giant Imperial Brands (LSE:IMB) is today reiterating the push being made under its new strategic goals and relatively new chief executive. 

Full-year profit guidance remains unchanged, with Imperial expecting low-mid single-digit organic adjusted operating profit growth at constant currency. First-half adjusted operating profit is up 8% given a reduction in next generation product losses and higher distribution profit. A heightened focus on its top five tobacco markets is now central, as is taking a more disciplined investment approach at its e-cigarettes and oral nicotine, or next generation products.

Adjusted net debt is down £3.1 billion given a combination of higher profit, a reduced dividend and the proceeds from the sale of its Premium Cigar Division. A progressive dividend policy is back in focus following its previous cut, with the interim payment of 42.12p per share, payable in two parts, up 1% from last year. 

In all, moves by Imperial and its rivals to next generation products have been hindered since 2019 by safety concerns. The use of flavourings to enhance consumer enjoyment, and even possibly encourage new users, also brought the industry under the spotlight. A previous rebasing of the dividend also proved disappointing given the sector’s prior reputation for dividend dependability. 

More favourably, and under the guidance of new management, a revamped strategy is now being pursued. The ability to generate cash remains strong and efficiency gains and cost savings continue to be targeted. A rebased dividend also offers increased financial flexibility and scope to continue lowering group debt. A forecast and historic dividend yield of over 8%, even following the previous rebasing, is highly attractive in the current ultra-low interest rate era.

While ethical concerns will deter many investors, an attractive dividend yield and low valuation currently leave market consensus opinion pointing towards a ‘buy’.

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