Citing its strong balance sheet and steady forecasts, Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Tuesday that it will raise its quarterly dividend to shareholders by a penny, to 26 cents, or $1.04 per year.
The move marks the first dividend increase at the oil and natural gas producer in more than two decades. Occidental's last dividend increase came in 1981, when the quarterly payout jumped to 62.5 cents a share, up from 55 cents. In 1991, that amount -- equal to $2.50 per year -- was slashed to its current level of 25 cents a quarter amid a massive corporate restructuring.
Shares of Occidental, which also makes chemicals, rose 23 cents to $27.90 in New York Stock Exchange trading. The new dividend will be payable April 15 to people who own company stock on March 10.
While rivals have announced production cutbacks, Occidental plans to increase oil production by 28%, to 610,000 barrels a day, by 2006. The company also has been reducing its debt.