Joining a slew of major companies returning cash to shareholders, Coca-Cola (KO) said Thursday its board of directors approved a 10% increase in the beverage giant's dividend. 

Shares of the iconic American company trimmed their early losses and flirted with positive territory on the news.

Coca-Cola said it has raised its quarterly dividend to 28 cents per share from 25.5 cents previously. That translates to an annual dividend of $1.12 a share, marking the blue-chip company's 51st consecutive annual dividend boost.

Atlanta-based Coke said the new dividend is payable on April 1 to shareholders of record as of March 15.

"The increase reflects the board's confidence in the company's long-term cash flow," Coke said in a statement, noting it returned $9.1 billion to shareholders in 2012, including $4.6 billion in dividends. 

A number of other major companies raised their dividends in recent days, including health insurer WellPoint (WP), shipping giant UPS (UPS), conglomerate 3M (MMM), athletic apparel maker Foot Locker (FL) and technology company Xerox (XRX).

Coke also announced the election of new executive vice presidents: Ahmet Bozer, president of Coca-Cola International; Steven Cahillane, president of Coca-Cola Americas. Also, J. Alexander "Sandy" Douglas, Jr., global chief customer officer, has been elected a senior vice president.  

Shares of Coke were recently trading up 0.05% to $37.75, leaving them with a 4% gain so far this year. 

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