Southwest boosts quarterly dividend, sets new share buyback program

Wed May 14, 2014 11:59am EDT

May 14 (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines on Wednesday raised its quarterly dividend by 50 percent and said its board approved a new $1 billion share repurchase program.

The dividend will be hiked to 6 cents a share from 4 cents a share and be paid on June 25 to shareholders of record as of June 4, the airline said.

Under the company's new share buyback program, an initial $200 million of common stock is due to be repurchased on an accelerated basis, Southwest said.

Chief Executive Gary Kelly told Southwest's annual meeting of shareholders on Wednesday that the carrier had made $1.7 billion in share repurchases since August 2011.

Kelly also told the meeting in Dallas, which was broadcast over the Internet, that revenue trends were solid.

"The traffic thus far in May and the bookings for the rest of this quarter look very strong," he said.

Shares of Southwest were off 0.44 percent to $24.87 at midday on Wednesday. (Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta, editing by G Crosse)

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