March 12, 2015 / 7:11 AM / 2 years ago

Morrisons year profit more than halves, to cut future dividend

LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) - Annual profit at Britain's fourth biggest grocer Morrisons slumped 52 percent to an eight-year low, damaged by last year's strategic decision to slash prices to stem the loss of shoppers to discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Morrisons, which trails market leader Tesco, Wal-Mart's Asda and Sainsbury's in annual sales, said on Thursday it made an underlying pretax profit of 345 million pounds ($516 million) in the year to Feb. 1.

That compares to analysts' average forecast of 342 million pounds and 785 million pounds made in 2013-14. It represents a third straight year of decline.

Despite the slump in profit the firm is paying a final dividend of 9.62 pence, making 13.65 pence for the full year, up 5 percent.

However, it signalled lower payouts going forward, guiding to a dividend of not less than 5 pence per share for 2015-16.

The firm also said it would invest more in cutting prices in the current year and slow down the opening of convenience stores. ($1 = 0.6684 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)

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