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Conserving cash: Walmart gets stingy with dividend

Walmart shareholders have gotten spoiled by some hefty dividend increases in recent years, but that won’t be the case in 2014 when the annual payout rises a meager 2%.

Walmart announced the dividend increase in conjunction with the release of uncharacteristically disappointing financial results. The company increased the annual payout to $1.92 from $1.88 last year, making the 2% increase the smallest amount of the past decade.

“We are pleased to continue our long history of dividend increases for Walmart shareholders,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon. “In fact, this is the 41st consecutive year that we have raised our annual dividend. This consistency of returns to shareholders is a testament to the strength of our global portfolio in generating solid free cash flow. During fiscal year 2014, we returned $12.8 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.”

Consistency is good, but the meager 2% increase is a far cry from the double digit and high single digit gains seen in recent years. In 2013, the dividend was increased 18% to $1.88 from $1.59. In 2012, the dividend rose 9% to $1.59 from $1.46. In 2011, the board approved a 21% increase which moved the dividend to $1.46 from $1.21. In 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007, the dividend was increased by 11%, 15%, 8% and 31%, respectively.
 

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