Microsoft Announces Dividend Hike, More Share Buybacks

It is no secret that investors love dividends and stock buybacks, and companies raising dividends are prized above others. The bull market is seven and a half years old, and investors have grown to expect their top dividend stocks will make sure they keep growing those dividends.

It is important to remember that dividends account for close to half of all shareholder returns through time as well.

Though it was not one of 24/7 Wall St.’s recent list of eight big dividend hikes expected before year-end, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has gotten in on the act:

Microsoft Corp. today announced that its board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.39 per share, reflecting a 3 cent or 8 percent increase over the previous quarter’s dividend.  The dividend is payable December 8, 2016 to shareholders of record on November 17, 2016.  The ex-dividend date will be November 15, 2016.

Microsoft did make the 24/7 Wall St. list of companies buying back the most stock this year. And Wednesday morning’s announcement included something for investors on that front as well:

The board of directors also approved a new share repurchase program authorizing up to $40 billion in share repurchases. The new share repurchase program, which has no expiration date, may be terminated at any time. The company reaffirmed that it is on track to complete its current $40 billion stock repurchase program by December 31, 2016.

Microsoft also announced that its next annual shareholders meeting will be held on November 30, 2016. Shareholders as of the close of business on September 30, 2016 will be entitled to vote at that shareholders meeting.

Shares of Microsoft closed most recently at $56.81 apiece, in a 52-week range of $43.05 to $58.70, but they were up 1.4% to $57.60 in Wednesday’s premarket trading. The consensus price target is $59.87.

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