NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Sysco ( SYY), the food distribution company, plans to buyback 20 million common shares and raise its dividend by a penny to 27 cents a share.

A previous repurchase program of 20 million shares from August 2010 has about 5.3 million shares remaining, Sysco said in a statement Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Sysco reported an 8.6% increase in first-quarter sales to $10.6 billion and a 0.6% increase in operating income to $509 million. Earnings of 51 cents a share were below analysts' views of 52 cents.

"While real sales growth over the past few quarters has been soft and SYY has had difficulty in passing through inflation, trends do not appear to be worsening despite a very challenging macro backdrop," Citi said in a recent analyst report.

The stock hit a recent low on Oct. 5 of $25.47, but has risen steadily since then. In trading Wednesday, shares were off 0.2% to $27.78.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian