Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, raised its annual dividend 8.9 percent to $1.59 a share, the smallest increase since the company’s fiscal 2009.
The first quarterly payout of 39.75 cents a share will come April 4 for shareholders of record as of March 12, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said today in a statement. The Bloomberg Dividend Forecast was for a quarterly payment of 44 cents.
Wal-Mart’s dividend increase is less than expected and lower than the company has given in recent years, Colin McGranahan, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York, said in an e-mail. The retailer increased the dividend by 8 percent in fiscal 2009, which includes 11 months of calendar 2008, when the economy was reeling from the financial crisis, he said.
“Seems a bit on the meager side to us,” McGranahan said.
Wal-Mart rose 0.2 percent to $59.22 at 10:07 a.m. in New York. The shares had declined 1.1 percent this year before today.
The company raised the dividend by 21 percent in fiscal 2012, 11 percent in fiscal 2011 and 15 percent in fiscal 2010.
“We have high expectations for fiscal year 2013,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke said in the statement. “Our core Walmart U.S. business is back on track.”
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