PITTSBURGH — International Business Machines Corp. Monday raised its quarterly dividend by 10%, the first time it has increased the payout in nearly five years, reflecting the company's confidence in its major restructuring program.
Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM said in a statement that it had raised its quarterly dividend to $1.21 a share from $1.10. IBM last raised the dividend in the third quarter of 1984, lifting it from 95 cents.
Speaking to shareholders at the company's annual meeting, Chairman John F. Akers said the increase was a show of confidence by IBM management in the pace of the company's restructuring.
Over the past three years IBM has reduced costs and restructured operations, shedding several businesses and cutting the number of employees by nearly 20,000 through attrition and voluntary early retirement programs.
Akers declined to rule out the possibility that IBM might further cut its work force, saying it depended on the "pace of our business."
In response to another question, Akers also said IBM is committed to participating in the technical workstation market. Akers said that market is large and growing, adding that IBM has made a significant investment in research.
Although it offers technical workstation products, powerful desktop computers designed for scientific and engineering uses, IBM has not been a major player in the market, which is dominated by manufacturers such as Sun Microsystems Inc.
The annual meeting voted against a proposal that IBM proceed immediately to stop all sales and services to South Africa. About 55.4 million, or 14.5%, of votes cast at the annual meeting were in favor of the proposal, which supporters said was the highest positive vote ever received by an IBM shareholder resolution.
IBM sold its South African subsidiary in 1986, but has continued to provide products and services to that country.