Boeing Co.'s (BA) shares rose 2.13% in pre-market trading after the aerospace giant’s board made good on its pledge to return more cash to shareholders.
In a statement, Chicago, Illinois-based Boeing announced plans to increase its dividend by 20% to $2.055 per share, payable March 1, 2019 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 8, 2019. The company also revealed that it had authorized a new $20 billion buyback program to replace its existing $18 billion share repurchase scheme.
Boeing said these pledges mean it has now increased its dividend nearly 325% over the past six years and repurchased more than 230 million shares over the same time period. The aerospace giant added that it has already repurchased $9 billion worth of its shares from the $18 billion authorization approved in December 2017.
"The strength of our business and our confidence in the sustainable long-term outlook are powering investments in productivity, innovation and growth, while delivering on our commitment to return cash to shareholders," said Greg Smith, Boeing chief financial officer and executive vice president of Enterprise Performance & Strategy.
Boeing’s generous cash returns are being financed by strong demand for commercial jets, amid a rising global middle-class population, and successful efforts to achieve greater operational efficiencies. The company guided for operating cash flow between $15 billion and $15.5 billion in 2018.
Boeing has also been using its capital to invest in its business and strengthen its market share. On Monday, the aerospace company revealed that it agreed to pay Embraer $4.2 billion to acquire control of the Brazilian jetmaker’s commercial aircraft and services operations.
The joint venture, which still requires approval from the Brazilian government, as well as shareholders and regulators, was announced just days after Boeing’s close rival Airbus announced a similar deal to acquire the new CSeries commercial jet family from Canada’s Bombardier Inc. (BBD.A). Boeing previously lodged a $3.8 billion bid for Embraer back in July.
Boeing’s shares are up 7.2% year-to-date. In recent weeks, the stock has come under pressure from deteriorating U.S.-China trade relations and the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air flight using Boeing’s 737 Max 8 aircraft.