Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

Food and clothing retailer Woolworths, whose share price is trading at seven-year lows, has cut its interim dividend for the second consecutive year as tough trading conditions in SA and Australia weighed on its performance. There is little prospect for dividend increases over the next two years as it suspends these from its struggling Australian operations, where it is working to preserve cash. In 2018, the interim dividend cut was the first in nine years. At a results presentation on Thursday, CEO Ian Moir told analysts that no dividends would be paid from its struggling Australian business until debt there was reduced to A$200m from A$365m. The troubles at David Jones in Australia, which it bought in 2014 as part of its strategy to become the largest retailer in the southern hemisphere, has weighed on the Woolies share price — down 33% over the past 12 months. Over that period, it has lagged the JSE’s all share and general retailers indices. The results for the six months were hi...

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