Woolworths reported that it rebounded to a net profit of R1.89bn in the first half of its 2019 financial year from a R4.86bn loss caused by a R6.9bn impairment of Australian department store chain David Jones. Woolworths cut its interim dividend for a second consecutive financial year. The retailer declared a 92c dividend for the first half of its 2019 financial year, down 15% from the 108.5c paid in the first half of its 2018 financial year, which in turn was down 18% from the R1.33 paid for the first half of its 2017 financial year. The interim dividend declared on Thursday was the lowest Woolworths had paid since 2013. The group’s SA food division helped it grow its top line 2.4% to R37bn for the 26 weeks ended December 23, but Australian department store chain David Jones, which it acquired for R21.5bn in 2014, dragged its operating profit down 5% to R3bn.

The retailer reports in weeks rather than months, and its 2018 first half was placed in an unflattering light by endin...

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