NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Report

said Thursday it's returning even more cash to shareholders, boosting its dividend by 15%.

The Dow component said its board has approved lifting its quarterly payout to 70 cents a share from 61 cents a share, payable on Dec. 15 to shareholders of record on Dec. 1. The higher dividend, which will total about $700 million per quarter, represents a forward annual yield of 3.2% based on Thursday's closing price of $85.99.

"Today's announced dividend increase brings our 2011 expected total cash return to shareholders to about $6 billion through dividends and share repurchases," said Jim Skinner, the company's CEO, in a statement, adding later: "Our philosophy on the use of capital remains unchanged with our first priority being to reinvest in our business to drive sales and cash flow, while generating strong returns. After these investment opportunities, we expect to return all of our free cash flow to shareholders over the long-term through dividends and share repurchases. "

McDonald's noted in its press release that it has lifted its dividend every year since 1976. The company also said it plans to report its third-quarter results before the opening bell on Oct. 21. The current average estimate of analysts polled by

Thomson Reuters

is for earnings of $1.43 a share in the September-ending period on revenue of $7.03 billion.

One of the brightest spots in the broad market, McDonald's shares have risen more than 16% so far in 2011, contrasting with a year-to-date decline of more than 10% in the

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S&P 500

after Thursday's massive selloff.

McDonald's shares edged lower in late trades, last quoted at $85.75, down 24 cents, on volume of more than 110,000, according to

Nasdaq.com

.

--

Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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