For the second time in as many weeks, Aqua America (NYSE:WTR) has increased its dividend. After announcing last week that it would increase its dividend 6.1% for June, the Board of Directors announced today that it will push its payout threshold, and bump up its per-share dividend an additional 9%, to $0.19, for September.
Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis said in a statement today:
The Board of Directors takes its objective to increase shareholder value very seriously and continues to feel strongly about the importance of rewarding the company's shareholders through increasing dividends, which have been paid without interruption for more than 65 years. Due to the significant increase in earnings in recent years, our dividend payout ratio is now approximately 50 percent based on current earnings. The company continues to target a long-term goal of a dividend payout ratio of 60 to 70 percent.
Aqua also announced that, for the seventh time in 17 years, it will split its stock on a 5-for-4 basis in September. Because dividend payouts will be adjusted accordingly (to $0.152 per share), the split has no real effect on shareholder value or dividend payouts.
According to the release, Aqua has increased its dividend 23 times over the last 22 years, for an averaged 6% compound annual growth rate.
Looking ahead, DeBenedictis noted that, "We look forward to continuing to deliver above average total returns to our shareholders through a combination of reinvesting capital in the business and returning capital to our shareholders."
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