Increase aims to beat fiscal-cliff crunch

Walt Disney said Wednesday that it is boosting its annual dividend to shareholders by 25% to 75¢ a share, the latest company to do so on jitters over the looming “fiscal cliff.”

The dividend announcement comes a day after the Mouse raised a hefty $3 billion in a bond offering, part of which will likely go toward funding the bigger shareholder payout.

It’s a race against the clock as pols in Washington, D.C. negotiate heatedly over tax hikes — including a near tripling of dividend tax rates — and spending cuts that could hit hard starting Jan. 1 if no deal is reached by year’s end.

Special payouts and dividends before then wouldn’t feel the squeeze. Disney said the dividend will be paid Dec. 28 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 10. It’s the conglom’s 57th consecutive payout.

“Fiscal 2012 was a another great year for the Walt Disney Company, creatively and financially,’ said chairman Robert Iger in a statement. “We achieved record revenue, net income and earnings per share, while continuing to invest for long-term growth.”

The Mouse also announced that it will hold its annual shareholder meeting on Wed.,March 6 in Phoenix.

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