- Water utility Severn Trent posted a 50% drop in annual profit owing to a tax charge, but it hiked its annual dividend 7.2% amid a slight fall in underlying earnings.

Profit before interest and tax for the year through March 2020 rose 0.9% to £568.2m, though net profit slumped 50% to £159m, partly owing to a deferred tax charge.

Revenue rose 4% to £1.84bn and underlying profit slipped back 0.6% to £570.3m.

The fall in underlying profit was partly pinned on an increase in the company's bad debt provision and a significant property sale in the prior year.

Severn Trent also recorded an exceptional loss of £46.8m and provided £4.9m against a loan receivable at the Water Plus venturel largely driven by the impact of Covid-19 on the non-household retail market.

The company declared a final dividend of 60.05p per share, bringing total dividends for the year to 100.08p, up from 93.37 on-year.

'Operationally, this has been another year where we have delivered for all of our stakeholders,' chief executive Liv Garfield said.

'However, the last few weeks have been extraordinary; not only for our business, but for the country.'

'We know that this is a difficult time for our customers, and I am incredibly proud of the ways in which the business has responded.'

'We also understand that for many people this will be a difficult time financially, and we have stepped up our support for those on our priority services register and customers that need extra help with their bills.'

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