SAN FRANCISCO (
boosted its quarterly common stock dividend by 19% to 12.5 cents a share on Wednesday, a move that further distinguishes the electronic payments network from firms still hampered by fallout from the financial crisis.
The dividend is payable Dec. 1 to holders of the San Francisco-based company's class A, class B and class C shares as of Nov. 16.
"Our Board of Director's decision to increase our dividend rate is further validation of Visa's focus on returning excess cash flow to our shareholders," Chairman and CEO Joe Saunders said in a statement. "We are especially pleased that in spite of the difficult global economic backdrop, Visa has been able to generate both solid returns and excess capital for our shareholders."
Visa's decision to boost the dividend stands in stark contrast to the trend at most other financial firms, many of whom need to shore up their capital base. For example, banks still operating under the Troubled Asset Relief Program are prohibited from raising their dividend without government approval.
The company, like its rival
, while not immune to the financial crisis of the last two years, has fared better than banks and other consumer lenders because of its reliance on fee and transaction revenue. Neither Visa nor MasterCard carry credit card loans on their balance sheet like major card lenders such as
, among others.
Visa's shares have risen 44% this year. The stock hit a 52-week-high of $75.90 on Tuesday, but fell slightly in the afternoon to close at $75.05. Visa's shares were tracking lower in pre-market action Wednesday.
The company is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Oct. 27. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for Visa to report earnings of 72 cents a share in the September period on revenue of $1.78 billion.
--Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.