Deutsche Post's finance chief, Edgar Ernst, hinted in a newspaper interview Wednesday that the semi-privatized German postal service might again raise its dividend payout to shareholders this year. "Of course, we cannot say today what dividend we're going to offer for this year. But our principle remains valid -- the better shape the company is in, the more shareholders will benefit," Ernst told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau in an interview. "The financial markets are counting on a stable payout ratio of 35 percent. Based on current earnings forecasts, that would result in a 65-70 euro cents (per share) after 50 cents for 2004. That's what the consensus is. And we haven't said anything to contradict that," Ernst said. Deutsche Post is forecasting an increase in operating profit "to at least 3.6 billion euros" ($4.7 billion) from 3.35 billion euros in 2004.