Visa Shows Shareholders Some Cash: Boosts Dividend by 20%

Visa (V) is boosting its quarterly dividend payment by 20%, the credit-card company said Wednesday. Investors who have held shares since at least Nov. 19 will get paid 15 cents per share, up from last year's 12.5 cents per share, on Dec. 7.

The news, which marks the second year in a row that Visa has raised its dividend, comes in advance of the company's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report expected next week. The quarterly dividend increase raises the annual dividend rate to 60 cents per share from 50 cents per share, the company said.

The increased dividend reflects the company's growing
cash balance: Visa had a $5.21 billion as of June 30, up from $4.62 billion on Sept. 30, 2009. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Visa to report fourth-quarter earnings of 94 cents a share, up from 74 cents in the year-ago quarter.

Visa, the largest U.S. credit-card-payment processor, handled approximately $764 billion in credit-card purchases last year, about 65% more than either American Express(AXP) or MasterCard (MA). Visa shares advanced 2.5% to close at $79.52 Wednesday.