PNC Financial raises dividend 250 percent

By Joe Rauch

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - PNC Financial Services Group Inc <PNC.N> said it would raise its quarterly dividend 250 percent and would repurchase up to $500 million of common stock this year.

The bank said it would increase its quarterly dividend to 35 cents a share, which would amount to about 24 percent of its expected 2011 earnings. Like its rivals, PNC received regulatory approval to pay more of its earnings to shareholders after being found to have enough capital to withstand stress scenarios.

Pittsburgh-based PNC said on March 18 that it would consider a dividend increase at the company's April 7 board meeting after completion of a second round of industry stress tests conducted by the Federal Reserve.

PNC has long been considered one of the strongest U.S. banks to emerge from the 2008 financial crisis.

The bank has posted consistent profits since the crisis peaked in fall 2008.

The dividend announcement comes less than two weeks before the bank will report first quarter 2011 results on April 21.

Analysts project the company will report first quarter 2011 earnings of $1.36 per share.

US Bancorp, <USB.N> , JPMorgan Chase, <JPM.N>, Wells Fargo & Co <WFC.N> and State Street Corp <STT.N> announced higher dividends on March 18.

PNC previously paid a quarterly dividend of 10 cents per share, which was about 6 percent of net earnings in 2010. The higher dividend will be paid on May 5 to investors who own shares at the close of business on April 18.

PNC shares were up slightly at $63.87 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Joe Rauch, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, John Wallace, Dave Zimmerman)