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) --



announced a

dividend increase early Friday.

Sysco said its board approved a 4% increase to its quarterly cash dividend, paying shareholders a penny more per share.

The distributor of food and foodservice products will pay its investors 26 cents per share on Jan. 28 to holders of record at the close of business on Jan. 7.

>>33 Dividend Stocks Increasing Payouts

"We understand the importance of the dividend to our shareholders and are pleased to once again increase the annual dividend," said CEO Bill DeLaney.

"Fiscal year 2011 will be the 42nd year in a row that we have paid a dividend to our shareholders -- a testament to Sysco's consistently strong balance sheet and cash flow throughout the years."

Earlier this week Sysco posted better-than-expected fiscal first quarter revenue, but earnings came up short on a decline in gross profit margin and higher pension costs.

>>Sysco Stalls on Higher Pension Costs

Sysco said early Monday its 2011 fiscal first quarter revenue increased 7.4% to $9.8 billion, topping Wall Street's expectations.

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Quarterly profits slid 8.3% to $299.1 million, or 51 cents per share, shy of analysts' consensus call for earnings of $302 million.

Sysco attributed its revenue growth to the impact of food cost inflation and strong case volume growth.

Sysco shares were 0.1% higher ahead of midday on Friday to trade at $28.63.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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