GE, AT&T Hike Dividend, Honeywell Lays Out $5B Buyback Plan


General Electric (NYSE:GE) and AT&T (NYSE:T) hiked their quarterly dividend payouts and Honeywell (NYSE:HON) unveiled a $5 billion buyback program on Friday, representing the latest example of major companies returning cash to shareholders.

GE said its board of directors approved the 16% increase to the company’s dividend to 22 cents per share. The new dividend is payable on January 27 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on December 23.

In October, GE logged stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings even as its profits fell 8.6% due to charges and a revenue slowdown at its finance arm.

AT&T opted for a more modest 2.2% increase to its quarterly dividend to 46 cents a share.  The move marked the telecom giant's 30th consecutive year of dividend hikes.

"Returning value to our shareholders is one of AT&T's top priorities," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Honeywell revealed its board signed off on a $5 billion share repurchase program. The conglomerate said it has “substantially completed” a $3 billion buyback program that had been authorized in 2011.

“This new share repurchase authorization demonstrates continued confidence in our long-term growth outlook and commitment to delivering value to shareholders through disciplined cash deployment," Honeywell CEO Dave Cote said in a statement.

Honeywell also increased its dividend by 10% to $1.80 a share in October.

Shares of Morristown, N.J.-based Honeywell ticked up 0.51% to $86.73 Friday afternoon, while GE gained 0.34% to $26.63. Honeywell's shares have soared 36.5% in 2013, besting GE's rally of 27%.

Dallas-based AT&T was recently trading down 0.41% to $33.75.