GE ups dividend to be paid after potential tax rate changes

The Board of Directors of General Electric said Friday it raised  the quarterly dividend by 12 percent, or 2 cents per outstanding share of common stock, to 19 cents.

The Board declared that the dividend is payable January 25, 2013 to shareowners of record at the close of business on December 24, 2012. The ex-dividend date is December 20, 2012.

Some companies have granted special dividends this year before the end of December in case the tax rate on dividend earnings increases on Jan. 1. Currently, the tax rate on dividends is 15 percent, but that rate could go up if Congress lets Bush-era tax breaks end.

GE has not made any announcements regarding a special dividend.

In addition, GE’s board increased the existing share-repurchase authorization by $10 billion and extended the repurchase plan through 2015, which otherwise would have expired on December 31, 2013. As of the end of the third quarter of 2012, the plan had approximately $4.9 billion in remaining authorization.

“We are pleased to increase GE’s quarterly dividend for the fifth time in three years,” GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said. “In addition to investing in long-term growth, returning cash to our shareholders remains a top priority. Coupled with our strong operational outlook, today’s announcement underscores our balanced and disciplined approach to capital allocation.”

Shares of GE were off 1 cent to $21.61 in New York trading.

Rob Varnon