The Walt Disney Co. board on Wednesday announced that it has increased the company's annual cash dividend by 25%.
The annual dividend of 75 cents a share, up from 60 cents the previous year, is payable on Dec. 28 and will cost the company about $1.36 billion.
Its fiscal fourth-quarter income improved 14% as the company posted continued growth from its theme parks and media networks, on the heels of a $4.05 billion deal to acquire the "Star Wars" franchise and Lucasfilm Ltd. from producer George Lucas.
Shares rose 38 cents at $49.58 in after-hours trading.
"Fiscal 2012 was another great year for the Walt Disney Company, creatively and financially," said Disney's chairman and CEO Robert Iger in a statement. "We achieved record revenue, net income and earnings per share, while continuing to invest for long term growth, and we are pleased to be able to increase our shareholder dividend by 25 percent."
The stock is up 44% over the past 12 months, but the year had its ups and downs.
It took strong performances from cable unit ESPN and theme parks to offset the second quarter's $200 million loss from the movie's unit's megaflop "John Carter." In the third quarter however, driven by the Marvel superhero movie "The Avengers," which has made more than $1.4 billion worldwide, studio income increased to $313 million from $49 million a year earlier.
Disney also announced that it has scheduled its annual shareholders' meeting for Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Phoenix, Ariz.
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