WH Smith reinstates dividends after profit slightly beat estimates

A person wearing a mask leaves a WH Smith store in London

(Reuters) -WH Smith on Thursday reinstated dividends after its annual profit slightly beat market expectations due to a rebound in travel demand from COVID-19 pandemic lows, even as labour strife disrupted business at its shops at train stations.

The company, which sells everything from books and sandwiches to Bluetooth headphones, said it would pay a final dividend of 9.1 pence per share. It had suspended dividends in 2020.

The travel industry has seen a sharp rebound during the year, leading to longer waiting times and chaos at airports and train stations for passengers, although rail strikes in Britain have also caused some travel disruptions.

"... While there is economic uncertainty, travel patterns globally continue to improve and this, combined with the strength of the Group's growth opportunities, means that we are well positioned for a year of significant progress in 2023", said Chief Executive Officer Carl Cowling.

The company reported a 73 million pound ($82.99 million) profit for the year ended in August 2022, from a loss of 55 million pounds a year ago.

According to a company-compiled consensus, profit expectations were at 72 million pounds for the year.

($1 = 0.8797 pounds)

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)