Marc Hasenfuss Editor-at-large

Earlier this year I raised the possibility that something might finally give at perennially profitable industrial services specialist Howden Africa in terms of the four-year dividend impasse. How wrong I was ... For those who need reminding, the cash-generative (and superbly managed) Howden has not paid a dividend since the interim payout in 2013. At last count (the year to end-December), Howden boasted earnings of 332c/share that were underpinned by R216m cash generated by operations (equivalent to 328c/share). Net cash generated was R144m. This pushed Howden’s cash pile to R909m, which means cash on hand represents an astounding 40% of Howden’s R2.1bn market capitalisation, or almost R14/share. After eavesdropping on last week’s AGM, I think I can safely say that there’s more chance of the Kings winning the Super Rugby tournament than there is of Howden paying a dividend any time soon. At the AGM, several shareholders aired their frustrations over the lack of dividends — but also ...

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