Saipem raises outlook after beating targets, return to dividend

MILAN, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Italian oil services group Saipem said on Wednesday it expected higher sales this year after it beat its 2019 targets and introduced a dividend for the first time in seven years.

But it warned that concerns over the impact of the coronavirus and political uncertainty in certain parts of the world could weigh on weak signs of recovery in the industry, holding back investments by oil majors.

The group, jointly controlled by oil major Eni and state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, said it saw revenues this year of around 10 billion euros ($11 billion), up from the 9.1 billion euros reported last year when guidance had been for 9 billion euros.

Net profits last year came in at 12 million euros compared to a net loss of 472 million euros the previous year hurt by restructuring costs.

Saipem, a market leader in subsea exploration and construction, is looking to develop new lines of business to boost order books, including floating wind power farms and dismantling oil and gas platforms.

It said it would pay a dividend of 0.01 euros per share, the first time it has stumped up a shareholder return since the one it paid in 2013. ($1 = 0.9201 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes, editing by Gianluca Semeraro and Louise Heavens)