The announcement, made at the board's scheduled meeting last Friday, reflects the recently completed 5-for- 4 stock dividend. These dividends are payable on August 1, 2006 to stockholders of record of each class of stock outstanding at the close of business on July 14, 2006.
The meeting also resulted in the authorisation of future stock repurchases of up to $500 million. This new repurchase program will follow the completion of the share repurchase programme authorised by the board in August 2004, under which approximately $60 million remains available for repurchase of company stock.
"This new authorisation underscores the continued confidence the Board of Directors has in the Company's financial strength and long-term business prospects," said Bill Wrigley, Jr., chairman, president and CEO.
Indeed, the authorisation comes after some pretty solid results. The chewing gum giant earned a first quarter record $1.08 billion on the back of a 13 per cent sales increase and a 23 per cent increase in worldwide shipping.The Chicago-based confectionery giant also reported that net earnings for the quarter were $0.40 per diluted share - including the negative impacts of previously announced restructuring charges ($0.02) and new accounting requirements to expense stock options ($0.02) - versus $0.46 for the year ago period.
Wrigley's core business contributed a solid 6 per cent of the gain while the acquired confectionery brands accounted for 10 per cent of the increase. The negative impact of currency due to translation of results into a relatively stronger US dollar offset that combined growth by 3 per cent.