Serco, one of the outsourcing companies behind the heavily criticised NHS coronavirus test-and-trace programme, will consider paying a dividend to shareholders after the government contract helped boost its profits.
Shares in Serco surged by 18% on Friday after it said it expected to make an underlying profit for the year of between £160m and £165m. This is higher than previously forecast and an increase of more than a third on the previous year’s total. The company will make a decision in December on whether to pay a dividend.
The improved performance was driven by the extension of the test-and-trace contract, as well as US government contracts for healthcare and emergency management, Serco said in an unscheduled update to the stock market.
Serco was one of a number of private firms hired by the UK government to test people for coronavirus and trace their recent contacts. Serco runs a quarter of the 500 test sites around the country as well as providing handlers who call possible contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus.