McDonald's (MCD) said Thursday it is raising its quarterly cash dividend by 15%, to 70 cents a share.

The previous quarterly payout was 61 cents a share. 

"Our philosophy on the use of capital remains unchanged with our first priority being to reinvest in our business to drive sales and cash flow, while generating strong returns," said McDonald's CEO, Jim Skinner. "After these investment opportunities, we expect to return all of our free cash flow to shareholders over the long-term through dividends and share repurchases."

McDonald's said that between the increased dividend and share buybacks it will return about $6 billion to shareholders this year. 

The new dividend will be payable on December 15 to holders of record on Dec. 1.  

McDonald's has raised its dividend each year since paying its first dividend in 1976.