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Clearwater Seafoods to start paying quarterly dividend in December

HALIFAX – Clearwater Seafoods Inc. (TSX:CLR) will start paying a quarterly dividend next month, the Nova Scotia-based company announced Friday as it released improved third-quarter results.

Its shares, which have have been setting fresh 52-week highs all year, were up another seven per cent at midday Friday. They were up 45 cents at $6.30, a level that Clearwater hasn’t seen in years.

Clearwater chairman Colin MacDonald said the dividend has been “set at a level that is not only sustainable but that provides some opportunity for growth.”

The first payment on Dec. 13 will be worth 2.5 cents per share, for an annualized rate of 10 cents per share.

The Halifax-area company also announced its sales and adjusted earnings in the third quarter were up 12 per cent from a year earlier.

Clearwater said it had $114 million of sales in the third quarter, up from $101.6 million a year earlier.

Adjusted EBITDA, the company’s measure of its profitability, was $75.6 million, up from $69.5 million in the third quarter of 2012.

Clearwater also generated $25.2 million of free cash flow during the quarter. breaking a string of negative quarters.

The company cautioned that its business is seasonal in nature, and Clearwater tends to have higher free cash flow in the second half of its year.

Clearwater CEO Ian Smith said that demand for the company’s product has been strong and contributed to the improved revenue and free cash flow.

“As we continue to invest in our business and increase our access to supply, we expect to continue to deliver sustainable and profitable growth in 2014 and beyond,” Smith said.