3rd More Early, Special Dividends Scheduled Amid 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks

First Published Thursday, 6th December 2012 09:25 pm - © 2012 Dow Jones


--Companies moving dividend payments into 2012 from 2013 to avoid potential tax increases

--Many firms also approving special dividends

--Landstar System authorizes bulk payment of quarterly dividends for 2013, 2014

(Adds Sotheby's, Marcus and National Fuel Gas.)

By Ben Fox Rubin

More companies have unveiled a special dividend or accelerated dividend payout, as they seek to avoid potentially higher taxes next year amid heated "fiscal cliff" deliberations in Washington.

In January, $500 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts--dubbed the "fiscal cliff"--will begin if Congress and the White House don't intervene. Dozens of companies already have moved their quarterly dividend payouts to December instead of early 2013 to avoid possible higher taxes, while others have approved one-time special dividend payments for December.

On Thursday, Sirius XM Radio Inc. (SIRI) declared a special dividend of five cents a share, payable Dec. 28. The cost is expected to be about $325 million.

The satellite-radio operator also approved a stock buyback program of $2 billion. The company's market value is about $14.42 billion, according to FactSet.

Transportation services firm Landstar System Inc. (LSTR) said it plans to pay out 50 cents a share around Dec. 27, in lieu of quarterly payments for 2013 and 2014. The company's regular quarterly dividend has been six cents a share. Landstar said it intends to re-evaluate its dividend policy in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Heico Corp. (HEI, HEIA), an aircraft parts and repair company, boosted its previously unveiled special dividend by $1, to $2.14 a share--now costing the company about $114 million. The payment has been scheduled around Dec. 31.

National Healthcare Corp. (NHC) declared a special dividend of $1 a share, payable Dec. 21. The payout should cost the company about $16.6 million.

Money manager T. Rowe Price Group Inc. (TROW) unveiled a special dividend of $1 a share, payable on Dec. 28, with the payout costing the company about $260 million.

United-Guardian Inc. (UG), a maker of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, approved a special dividend of 50 cents a share and a semiannual dividend of 44 cents a share, both payable on Dec. 21. The special dividend will cost the company about $2.4 million.

Auction house Sotheby's (BID) said it would pay out both its first- and second-quarter dividends around Dec. 31, and raised the payouts to 10 cents per quarter from eight cents.

Marcus Corp. (MCS) approved a special dividend of $1 a share and accelerated its next two quarterly dividend payments. The dividends are payable on Dec. 28, and the special dividend will cost the movie theater and hotel owner about $29 million.

Coffee Holding Co. (JVA) doubled the price of its quarterly dividend to six cents a share and scheduled its payment date for Dec. 28, instead of January. The increase should cost the company an additional $200,000.

Marketing company Harte-Hanks Inc. (HHS) moved its quarterly dividend payment to Dec. 28, instead of its ordinary schedule of making the payment early next year.

Supermarket operator Safeway Inc. (SWY) moved its quarterly dividend payment to Dec. 31, from its typical date in January.

UniFirst Corp. (UNF), a uniform-rental company, scheduled its quarterly dividend to Dec. 27, instead of Jan. 7.

MSC Industrial Direct Co. (MSM), an industrial and maintenance products distributor, scheduled its quarterly dividend payment for Dec. 27, instead of January.

Toy-maker Hasbro Inc. (HAS) moved its quarterly dividend payment to Dec. 28, instead of mid-February.

Banking company Northwest Bancshares Inc. (NWBI) set its quarterly dividend date for Dec. 24, instead of February.

And energy company National Fuel Gas Co. (NFG) moved its quarterly dividend to Dec. 28, instead of early 2013.

Write to Ben Fox Rubin at ben.rubin@dowjones.com

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