Compass announces £500m share buyback as profits climb

The world's largest caterer, Compass, has announced plans to return £500m to investors through a share buyback next year, along with its full-year results. Underlying profit before tax was £1.2bn, up 9.2 per cent from a year ago, in line with expectations. Shares are up over 1.5 per cent in trading this morning.

The company saw organic revenue growth of 4.3 per cent, driven by strong performances in North America and fast-growing and emerging markets, on the back of high levels of new contract wins. These markets accounted for 19.2 per cent of group revenue, from 18.6 per cent in 2012, at £3.37bn.

Economic conditions in much of Europe remained "difficult throughout the year", with revenue in Europe and Japan totalling just £6bn - a decline of three per cent from 2012.

The share buyback programme for 2014 follows the current £400m buyback this year, and means the company has returned £1.4bn to shareholders over three years.

Compass has also raised its dividend by 12.7 per cent to 24 pence per share.