boosted its quarterly dividend 14% Wednesday and added a new independent board member.
The Burbank, Calif., media giant said it would pay 24 cents in annual dividends for 2005, up from 21 cents in 2004. That puts its new quarterly payout rate at 6 cents.
The company also added
executive Fred Lanhammer to its board. Disney said its governance and nominating committee has begun the process of identifying another independent board member, with a goal of electing that director within the next 12 months.
The news comes as Disney chief Michael Eisner moves to persuade shareholders that the company is moving forward and being managed properly. Shareholder pressure on Eisner resulted in his giving up a chairman's post last year, but the company fended off an unsolicited bid from
and its numbers have started to show improvement after a long stagnant spell.
The outreach campaign will hit an unusual note Wednesday evening. In what some outsiders are calling an unusual move, the company's board of directors is inviting major investors to a cocktail party in New York City. The party will unfold in the wake of a Delaware shareholder trial that explored the degree to which Disney's board was in the loop during the company's expensive and unproductive mid-1990s employment of former agent Michael Ovitz.
On Wednesday, Disney rose 81 cents to $27.69.