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June 26 (Reuters) - Australia's Metcash Ltd said on Monday it would resume dividend payments after reporting a 9.3 percent rise in underlying annual profit, sending shares in the grocery and hardware firm up sharply.
The improvement in underlying earnings was helped by income generated from its Home Timber & Hardware business, purchased last year, along with a strong performance from its liquor arm.
"Significant progress has been made on the integration of Home Timber & Hardware, and we remain excited about the opportunities this acquisition presents," Chief Executive Ian Morrice said in a statement.
The retailer was the top gainer on Australia's main index in early trade, rising 6.4 percent to A$2.33.
Metcash announced a fully franked final dividend of 4.5 cents per share, payable in July. It had previously planned to resume dividend payments in 2017-18.
In August 2016, the company acquired the hardware wholesaler from Woolworths for A$165 million.
The acquisition costs contributed to a 21 percent fall in net profit to A$171.9 million ($130.1 million).
In a separate announcement, Metcash said Morrice would retire in 2018. ($1 = 1.3207 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Hanna Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Barrett and Edwina Gibbs)