Ryland Group Jacks Dividend, Stock Surges - TheStreet

There's nothing like a 400% dividend increase and bullish comments from a company's CEO to reverse a steep slide in its stock price.

That's what happened with

The Ryland Group



The California-based homebuilder and mortgage company said it had increased its annual stock dividend from 8 cents a share to 40 cents a share, triggering a 3¿% rally in its stock.

Ryland shares had lost almost 11% this week going into Thursday's trading.Shares in homebuilder and mortgage lenders fell sharply after the nation's No. 2 mortgage lender

Washington Mutual

(WM) - Get Report

issued a profit warning early Tuesday, citing a severe slowdown in mortgage volumes.

R. Chad Dreier, Ryland's chairman and chief executive, said the dividend increase reflects "our confidence in the future strength of the company." He added the company "believes the stock price is still a good value, and intends to continue repurchasing shares through 2004."

Ryland's new release failed to mention any other details on the terms of the dividend increase.

Recently, the company's shares were up $2.99, or 3.6%, to $85.89, having hit a 52-week high of $94.14 on Dec. 1.

Prior to the move, Ryland's dividend yield was a paltry 0.1%. It's now a paltry 0.5%.