Microsoft Pops on Dividend Hike, Buyback Announcement

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft ( MSFT) shares jumped 1.8% after the company announced a 22% increase to its dividend and a replacement to its $40 billion buyback program.

Microsoft's quarterly dividend is now 28 cents per share, up from a prior 23 cents per share. The dividend is payable Dec. 12, 2013, to shareholders of record on Nov. 21, 2013. Shares will trade ex-dividend date Nov. 19, 2013.

In addition to the dividend hike, Microsoft's board of directors also approved a new $40 billion buyback program, with no expiration date. It replaces the previous $40 billion share repurchase program, which was set to expire at the end of this month.

"These actions reflect a continued commitment to returning cash to our shareholders," said Amy Hood, chief financial officer of Microsoft, in a press release.

Microsoft has come under pressure to shake up its business and return more cash to shareholders in an effort to boost its lagging stock price. The company recently announced that CEO Steve Ballmer will be ending his run at the top of Microsoft, with the company searching for a replacement.

In addition to Ballmer's pending departure, Microsoft purchased Nokia's ( NOK) devices and services division and licensed some of Nokia's patents for $7.17 billion.

One of Microsoft's largest shareholders, ValueAct Capital, recently signed a cooperation agreement with the company that allows ValueAct Capital President Mason Morfit to meet with selected Microsoft directors and company management "to discuss a range of significant business issues."

In addition to the meetings, the agreement also lets ValueAct's Mortfit join the board at the first quarterly board meeting after the 2013 annual shareholders meeting on Nov. 19.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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