Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV ) will raise its quarterly dividend fourfold, the company announced yesterday, increasing it to $0.04 a share from the current level of a penny. Annualized, this amounts to more than $100 million.
The quarterly dividend will be paid on June 26 to shareholders of record as of June 5. The dividend marks Southwest's 147th consecutive quarterly dividend payment.
The airline operator also announced it was increasing its existing $1 billion share repurchase authorization to $1.5 billion, of which an initial $250 million will be bought back on an accelerated basis. So far, $725 million in share repurchases of the $1.5 billion authorization have been completed since August 2011, reducing shares outstanding by more than 10%.
Southwest CEO Gary C. Kelly said: "Over the past 24 months, we have returned over 20% of our operating cash flows, or approximately $770 million, to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends."
The new $0.16-per-share annual dividend payment yields 1.1% based on the closing price of Southwest Airlines' stock on May 15.