|Don't Miss Why Financial Reform Will Hit GE|
financial reform legislation. Uncertainty about credit costs and a slow overall revenue growth rate have also held the shares in check. As it happens, this month marks the one-year anniversary of the company's decision to lower its quarterly dividend to 10 cents a share from 31 cents a share. Although the shares are still yielding 2.68% even with the lower payout, the prospect of beefing up the dividend is always a hot topic on the company's conference call. Last quarter, CEO Jeff Immelt said GE wanted "to grow the dividend in line with earnings in 2011" so analysts will be looking to extrapolate whatever they can from any outlook updates, although the company isn't likely to give them much to go on. As of March 31, GE had $69.6 billion in cash and equivalents, and Sterne Agee analyst Nicholas Heymann said in a recent report that he believes GE could move to lift the annual dividend to 50 cents a share for 2011 once it retires roughly $3 billion in preferred stock; a move that is expected to occur later this year. Heymann says GE typically reviews its dividend policy in November, so investors may have to sit tight until then.