For the fifth time in three years, General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is raising its quarterly dividend. This time by $0.02 to $0.19 a share, almost double its level following a reduction to $0.10 a share in February 2009.
The conglomerate also increased its existing share buyback plan by $10 billion and lengthened the expiration of the buyback program from the end of next year to 2015. The buyback plan had about $4.9 billion remaining before the boost.
CEO Jeffrey Immelt said:
Returning cash to our shareholders remains a top priority. Coupled with our strong operational outlook, today’s announcement underscores our balanced and disciplined approach to capital allocation.
The company was able to make these moves following an agreement with the Federal Reserve that allowed GE to gain access to a $78 billion pile of cash from its GE Capital Corp. So far this year, GE Capital has returned $5.5 billion to the mothership through the end of the third quarter.
Immelt’s goal is to reduce GE’s outstanding shares to fewer than 10 billion from the 10.5 billion outstanding at the end of September.
GE shares have gained 21% this year and are up 0.5% today at $21.73 in a 52-week range of $16.79 to $23.18.