Wednesday 31 July 2019 9:12 am

Funeral firm Dignity suspends dividend as deaths slump

Funeral firm Dignity suspended its dividend today as a fall in the number of deaths hit its results.

In the six months to 28 June revenue fell 12 per cent to £153.3m compared to the same period last year.

Operating profit nearly halved, falling 46 per cent to £28m, with basic earnings per share dropping 63 per cent to 23p.

Read more: Dignity shares slide after regulator proposes funeral competition probe

Dignity said it is temporarily suspending its dividend until “the current uncertain competitive environment becomes clearer”.

The Competition and Markets Authority is currently probing the sector on concerns of rising prices and a lack of competition.

Dignigty’s share price fell nine per cent to 557p this morning.

Mike McCollum, chief executive of Dignity, said: “While the number of deaths in the first half meant that our financial performance for the period was lower than originally anticipated, we remain confident that the changes we are introducing will generate sustainable growth in the medium to long-term. 

Read more: Funeral provider Dignity sees share price slide as profits drop amid rising competition

“Longer-term expectations, based on the ONS forecasts remain unchanged, with increases in the long-term number of deaths, reaching approximately 700,000 per year by 2040.”

The number of deaths in the first half was 300,000, down seven per cent on the same period last year.

Looking forward the company said its outlook for the full year remains dependent on a greater number of deaths in the second half of this year than the previous year.

Dignity said its funeral market share remains stable.

Picture credit: Getty