Disney’s feeling pretty good about itself ahead of the December 18 release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It just announced that it will pay shareholders a 71 cent per share dividend for the second half of the fiscal year that ended on October 3. When combined the the 66 cent payout in July, it represents a 19% increase vs 2014 and a forward yield of 1.25%.
The company started to pay a semi-annual dividend this year. Starting in 2016 it will review the dividend annually at the end of the fiscal year, but continue to pay semi-annually, it says. That should answer questions management might have faced at its next shareholder meeting, which Disney says today will be held on March 3 in Chicago.
“Fiscal 2015 marked Disney’s fifth straight year of record performance,” CEO Bob Iger says. He attributes that to “our unparalleled portfolio of global brands and franchises and our unique ability to leverage creative success to drive value across the entire company.”
The just-announced dividend will go to shareholders of record as of December 14.
Disney’s vote of confidence in itself comes as some investors question ESPN and other TV networks’ growth prospects as many pay TV subscribers either cut the cord or switch to skinny bundles with fewer channels. For example, last month Guggenheim Securities’ Michael Morris lowered his stock rating to “neutral” saying that he’s incrementally more concerned about the impact of weaker pay-TV subscriber trends than we were when we upgraded shares in April.”