Coke Continues Dividend-Raising Tradition
Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), the world's largest soft-drink maker, said it will raise its quarterly dividend by seven percent to 44 cents a share from 41 cents. That increases the annual to dividend to $1.76 from $1.64 a share. Coca-Cola, a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is the third member of that index to boost its dividend in the past week, joining 3M (NYSE: MMM) and United Technologies (NYSE: UTX), which announced higher dividends last week.
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that this is the 48th consecutive year in which Coca-Cola has increased its payout. The new dividend is payable on April 1 to shareholders of record on March 15th. The company returned $5.3 billion to shareholders in 2009, $3.8 billion of it was in the form of dividends and the remainder was in share buybacks.
Over the past decade, Coca-Cola has seen its free cash flow double to $6 billion and Business Week estimates the value of the Coke brand is close to $69 billion. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is the largest owner of Coca-Cola stock, owning 200 million of the shares.
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