General Electric Co. raised its quarterly dividend to 17 cents a share from 15 cents, matching analysts’ forecasts, as Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt increased the payout for the fourth time in two years.
The dividend is payable Jan. 25 to shareholders of record on Dec. 27, GE said Friday in a statement. The shares rose 2.9 percent to $16.79 at 11:23 a.m. in New York.
Analysts including JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s C. Stephen Tusa, Citigroup Inc.’s Deane Dray and Bernstein & Co.’s Steven Winoker have estimated in recent weeks a raise that would push the yield over 4 percent from 3.62 percent, or about 17 cents. Bloomberg analysts also projected an increase of 2 cents.
“Our financial performance continues to accelerate,” Immelt said in the statement. “The GE business model will continue to deliver strong earnings and cash flow growth going forward.”
GE paid $3.3 billion in October to repurchase preferred stock sold to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. as financial markets froze in 2008. That stake carried a 10 percent annual dividend, or about $300 million, and Immelt has said the redemption should boost earnings by 3 cents a share next year.
The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company cut its shareholder payout in February 2009 for the first time since the Depression to conserve cash as the global recession and credit crunch drained profit from its finance unit.
GE had $91 billion in cash and equivalents at the end of the third quarter.
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