Marc Hasenfuss Editor-at-large

The directors of Howden Africa have — according to the annual report — "resolved not to declare a dividend". That’s not terribly surprising. A number of industrial counters have skipped dividends as profits have dried up. Howden, on the other hand, has been consistently profitable (and highly cash generative) over the longer term — but it has not paid a dividend since an interim distribution of 30c/share in 2013. By now, long-suffering shareholders have learnt not to bank on a sudden resumption of dividends, with Howden directors fumbling about with unconvincing reasons for stashing away a huge pile of cash. Understandably, conspiracy theories abound around the stinginess, though minority shareholders can’t completely abandon hope that one day a bumper special dividend might be declared. I’m really not sure how Howden directors — who may be acting under instruction from US-based majority shareholder Colfax — can continue with this farce in the absence of a meaningful acquisition or ...

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