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Giving back to the shareholders

The Walmart board approved a hefty 21% increase to what was already one of the retail industry’s richest dividend payouts, the company announced late Thursday. The increase approved by the board puts Walmart’s annual dividend at $1.46 a share for the current fiscal year compared with last year’s dividend of $1.21. The dividend will be paid in quarterly installment of 56.5 cents.

“The strength of our earnings performance for fiscal 2011 and Walmart’s strong financial position allow us to again increase our dividend payout to shareholders,” said Mike Duke, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. president and CEO. “We continue to generate ample free cash flow to fund store growth across all our markets, make strategic acquisitions and deliver returns to shareholders through dividends and share repurchase.”

The increase will result in Walmart paying more than $5 billion in dividends to shareholders this year.