UnitedHealth Raises Dividend 34%

UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) raised its dividend by 34% on Wednesday and renewed its buyback program.

The world’s largest health insurer said its board authorized a cash dividend payment of 37.5 cents a share to be paid on June 25 to shareholders of record on June 16.

That marks a 34% increase from the 28-cent dividend it paid at the beginning of the second quarter.

"As we serve more people in increasingly diverse ways across health care, we are also able to grow our business and return more capital to our shareholders," UnitedHealth finance head David Wichmann said in a statement.

The Minneapolis-based health benefits manager also renewed its repurchase program, authorizing the buyback of up to 100 million shares. This replaces its previous program from June 2013 that has 63 million authorized shares remaining.

UnitedHealth last month reported a 7.8% decline in first-quarter earnings amid a decline in government funding. Revenue and membership both grew, however, as it enrolled more customers through the Affordable Care Act.

Its shares were trading flat around $79.88 in early trade.