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For several years, investors have been anticipating the end of the video game console business as more gamers move their action on line. That concern pushed shares of
GME), the nation's leading video game and console retailer from $45 in early 2008 to just $16 by last summer.
GameStop's management insisted that the future wasn't quite so bleak. It defended the stock through share buybacks -- the share count fell by nearly 40 million from fiscal (February) 2009 to 2012 to around 126 million -- and now appears increasingly committed to dividend boosts. GameStop issued its first ever dividend (80 cents a share) in 2012 and hiked it $1.10 a share this year.
That dividend can go far higher. Why's that? Because GameStop's business suddenly look a lot healthier than it did just a year or two ago. Sales trends have improved as the economy has stabilized, and new video consoles from
SNE) are likely to lead to rising demand for video game titles that can play on those new consoles.
To be sure, sales are on track to dip slightly in the current fiscal year, before rising roughly 6% in fiscal 2015 to around $9.2 billion. More important, per-share profits are expected to hit a company record $3.65 a share by next year. Look for the dividend, which already yields around 3%, to keep on rising in tandem with profits.
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