Tiles manufacturer Italtile’s shares rose more than 5% in early trade on Thursday after it released strong interim financial results that defied weak economic growth and subdued consumer confidence. The stock closed 1.5% up at R13.50. The owner of CTM and Top T brands increased turnover by 23% to R4.3bn, while trading profit was up 35% to R968m in the six months to December. Italtile, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019, increased earnings per share and headline earnings per share by 14% and 13%, respectively. The group improved cash balance from the previous R562m to R1bn.

Italtile, which also sells bathroomware and related products, increased its stores from 176 to 182. The interim dividend grew 29% to 22c. In 2018 Italtile changed its dividend policy from three times cover to two and a half times. Damon Buss, equity analyst at Electus Fund Managers, said on Thursday the company could afford to lower the dividend cover — which is the ratio of a company’s earnings o...

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