July 8, 2019 / 8:19 AM / a year ago

BUZZ-Imperial Brands: Top FTSE 100 gainer on progressive div policy, stock buyback

(Updates share price, adds analysts)

** Shares of British tobacco company Imperial Brands Plc climb 2.3% to 2005.5p; top pct gainer on the FTSE 100

** Co says will revise dividend policy from next year, announces stock repurchase plan of 200 million pounds ($250.42 million)

** Reaffirms 10% increase in final dividend for this year, div policy to be more progressive and payouts would grow annually from next year

** Broker Jefferies had previously noted that market was already pricing a dividend cut for IMB

** “With the dividend yield now over 10%, management have clearly decided enough is enough, and while payments to shareholders will continue to grow going forwards, share buybacks and debt reduction have moved up the list of priorities,” says Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett

** IMB has dividend yield of ~11.3%; 200 mln stg stock buyback represents ~21% of co’s free float of shares - Refinitiv Eikon data

** Stock has not booked yearly gains since 2015; shares have trimmed losses to ~15% this year

** Shares of peer BATS up 1.4% and is top boost on the FTSE 100 ($1 = 0.7987 pounds) (Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru)

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