M&S profit rises for first time in four years

British retailer Marks & Spencer posted its first rise in annual profit in four years and said it would return excess cash to shareholders, fuelling hopes that it has finally rediscovered a successful formula.

Britain's biggest clothing retailer, which also sells homewares and upmarket food, said on Wednesday it made a profit before tax and one-off items of 661.2 million pounds ($1.02 billion) in the year to March 28.

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That compares with analyst forecasts of 625-664 million pounds, with a consensus of 648 million pounds, and is 6.1 percent higher than the 623 million pounds made in 2013-14.

M&S raised its dividend 5.9 percent to 18 pence and announced a share buyback programme of 150 million pounds for 2015-16.