NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Walt Disney ( DIS) is giving a significant bump to its annual dividend payment.

The Dow component said late Wednesday that its board has approved increasing its yearly cash payout by 50% to 60 cents a share from 40 cents a share last year. The higher dividend is payable on Jan. 18 to shareholders of record on Dec. 16. The move gives Disney shares a forward yield of 1.7% based on Wednesday's closing price of $35.85.



"The Walt Disney Company had a great creative, strategic and financial year in fiscal 2011 with record revenue, net income and earnings per share," said Robert Iger, Disney's president and CEO, in a statement. "We are pleased to be able to raise our shareholder dividend by 50 percent while continuing to invest for future growth."

Disney noted it's been paying dividends to shareholders for more than 50 consecutive years, and also announced its annual shareholder meeting will be held in Kansas City, Mo. on March 13, 2012.

Year-to-date, Disney's stock is down nearly 10%, but it's rallied since scraping a 52-week low of $28.19 on Oct. 4. The company reported its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Nov. 10, beating Wall Street's profit expectations by more than 8%.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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