Tribune Media shares are up 2.2% in pre-market trading after the company made good on last month’s promise to give investors a $500 million dividend.
Yesterday the company’s board approved a special cash dividend of $5.77 a share for those who own its Class A and Class B stocks as of January 13, it says in a release this morning. Those who own warrants also will receive a cash payment equal to the dividend.
The payment will be made from existing cash and will be paid on February 3.
Tribune tipped off its plan on December 20 when it announced its agreement to sell its Gracenote data unit to Nielsen for $560 million. The cash from that deal will be used to pay down debt. The company added that it will continue repurchasing shares with $168 million remaining in the $400 million authorization from last year.
Some investors wondered why Tribune chose to give cash back to them instead of using it to buy other assets — including TV stations. But Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker noted that this could be a slow time for deals as the FCC proceeds with its auction of broadcasters’ airwave spectrum.
In addition, she says, it will “take time before media ownership rules are relaxed” — including the FCC’s rule barring companies from owning a dominant TV station and newspaper in the same market..