Wal-Mart Stores raised its annual dividend by nearly 9 percent on Thursday, as momentum in the company's key Walmart U.S. chain has rebounded.
The world’s largest retailer said that its board approved a dividend of $1.59 per share in fiscal 2013, which ends next January, up from $1.46 last year. Last year, Wal-Mart raised its dividend by 20.6 percent.
Wal-Mart has high expectations for the current fiscal year, with the core Walmart U.S. business “back on track,” Chief Executive Mike Duke said in a statement.
Shares of Wal-Mart , a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, rose to $59.63 in pre-market trading after closing at $59.08 on Wednesday.
Walmart U.S. posted its second straight rise in quarterly same-store sales last week, and traffic in the stores rose for the first time after six quarterly declines.
Wal-Mart’s international business is still growing and the Sam’s Club warehouse chain has also done well. Still, Wal-Mart continues to invest in areas such as e-commerce, where it trails market leader Amazon.com , and needs to cut costs to keep its prices low in the U.S.
Wal-Mart has raised its dividend every year since it first declared a dividend of 5 cents per share in 1974.
The dividend will be paid in quarterly installments of 39.75 cents per share, with the first payment on April 4 to shareholders of record as of March 12.
Wal-Mart said that it returned $11.3 billion to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks last year.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.