The 150,000 shareholders in the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus - many date back to the privatisation of British Steel in 1989 - are to get their first dividend since 2000, the year after British Steel merged with the Dutch Hoogovens.
Corus declared a cautious 0.5p interim yesterday, much in line with the promise at this year's annual meeting of a "modest" pay-out.
City analysts doubt if there will be more than the same again at the full-year, which would give Corus shares a yield of 2.3 per cent at last night's price of 44p, 11/2p down on the day and only ten per cent above their 12-month low.
"The key issue will be to ensure that whatever we do will be sustainable in the long term," said Philippe Varin, chief executive.
His caution stems from a sharp fall in worldwide steel prices in the third quarter of this year, not matched by steep energy and raw material costs.
Corus, like other European steel companies had countered this by cutting production.
"Our policy is to align production to demand, not to make stock and not to make low-margin products to sell on the spot market," Mr Varin insisted.
Meantime the buoyant steel market earlier this year and drastic restructuring which has cost 1,150 jobs in Britain, helped Corus deliver half-time profits of £435 million, against £156 million in the first half of last year and £411 million in the second six months.
Corus has now achieved £ 480 million of the £680 million annual cost savings set as a target for 2006 under a "Restoring Success" programme.
Looking ahead, Mr Varin has decided Corus will have to expand from its West European base, ideally in a way that gives it "vertical integration" through ownership of a source of iron ore.
He stressed, though, that he will do nothing to endanger Corus's "correct financial discipline". He does not intend to buy at a time of high prices.
He has also backed out of the bidding for the Turkish privatisation Erdemir, but might proceed with a Turkish partner.
"No suitable offers" have yet emerged for Corus's aluminium operation, though longterm they are still for sale.
Other long-term initiatives recently saw Corus announce an investment of £130 million at its Scunthorpe plant, where it will make structural sections, rail and wire rods. Its other main UK sites are at Rotherham and Port Talbot.
"Corus has delivered a strong financial performance in the first-half of 2005, despite more challenging market conditions," Mr Varin declared.
"Restoring Success remains on track and provides a firm foundation going forward."