- Defence company BAE Systems lifted its dividend and announced a £500 million share buyback programme after reporting a rise in first-half profit, led by its electronic systems division, which was boosted by acquisition made last year.

The company declared an interim dividend of 9.9p per share in respect of the half year ended 30 June 2021, up 5% on last year. It also approved a new share buyback programme of up to £500 million over the next 12 months, which will commence immediately.

For the half year ended 30 June, pre-tax profit grew to £1.2 million from £689 million year-on-year as sales increased by 6% to £10.0 billion.

Looking ahead, the company said that given the strong operational performance to date, 'we continue to expect reported underlying EBIT to increase in the range of 6% to 8% over 2020 and underlying EPS to increase in the range of 3% to 5% over 2020 even if the higher than guided $:£ exchange rate continues to year-end.'

'This therefore represents an underlying improvement to the original guidance,' it added.

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