Stock dividend information this week was led by networking products giant Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO). The belle of the ball during the 1990s dot-com boom, Cisco stock went from 9 cents a share to over $77 a share (nearly 86,000%!) — but CSCO didn’t budge when it came to paying a dividend. Now more than a decade since the dot-com bust, and with the shares trading at a 52-week low, the “Cisco Kid” has finally decided to spread the wealth.
This dividend payout is way overdue for Cisco, but as the old adage goes — better late than never. Of course, Cisco wasn’t the only company making payout headlines. Here are the details on CSCO and eight other stocks increasing dividends last week.
First, the specifics on Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO). Last week the company announced its first-ever payout, declaring a quarterly cash dividend of 6 cents per share. The dividend will be payable on April 20 to shareholders of record as of March 31. Based on recent pricing around $17, Cisco’s dividend payout represents an annual yield of 1.4%. Cisco CEO Frank Calderoni commented on the move saying, “As the role of the network expands across the IT sector, Cisco’s leadership position in the markets we serve is strong, and the time is right for Cisco stock to pay our first-ever cash dividend. This dividend complements our leading position, and is an important part of our commitment to bring value to shareholders.”
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Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) is another tech stock making dividend ways. HP’s announcement that it will raise its dividend for the first time in over a decade. The new payout is a whopping 50% increase in the amount of its regular quarterly dividend to 12 cents per share. The increase in the amount of the dividend will be effective when the HP board of directors declares its next dividend, which is expected in May. The company’s previously announced dividend, payable on April 6 for stockholders of record on March 16, will not be increased and will remain at 8 cents per share. HP made the announcement as part of its “strategy day” meeting between CEO Leo Apotheker and Wall Street analysts. HP intends to go to the “public cloud,” by selling services over the Internet that allow people to rent space on servers and to run websites.
Air Products & Chemicals (NYSE: APD) also increased its dividend. Air Productsis a leader in the industrial gas industry, and its products are used in a variety of applications including medical devices. Last month, APD scrapped plans to buy rival Airgas Inc. (NYSE: ARG), so instead it has used its cash to increase dividends and repurchase shares. The new quarterly dividend of 58 cents represents an 18% increase over the current payout. The dividend will be paid on May 9 to shareholders of record on April 1. APD has repurchased about $350 million worth of shares so far this year.
Ashland, Inc. (NYSE: ASH) increased its dividend too. The specialty chemicals company announced that it would increase its annual dividend to 70 cents per share from its current annual rate of 60 cents per share beginning with the June 15 dividend payout. The company also said its board approved a $400 million stock repurchase program.