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Lionsgate Announces First-Ever Dividend in Wake of ‘Catching Fire’

Payout set for Feb. 7

Lionsgate’s board has declared the company’s first quarterly cash dividend of five cents per common share.

The studio announced the payout Thursday before the stock market opened. Its tentpole, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” has grossed over $730 million worldwide in its first month of release — $40 million more than its first “The Hunger Games” took in its entire run last year.

The first dividend is payable Feb. 7  to shareholders of record at the close of business on Dec. 31.

“Our outstanding film and TV performance continues to translate into strong financial results,” said Lionsgate CEO  Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns. “We’re pleased that our financial strength and excellent visibility enable us to offer our first quarterly dividend, returning value to our shareholders as we continue to grow the company.”

The two “Mockingjay” titles in the “Hunger Games” franchise are already being shot back-to-back in Atlanta and will be released in November 2014 and November 2015.

Wall Street has given Lionsgate high marks for “The Hunger Games” franchise along with moves to deleverage its balance sheet, diversify its television business and increase its presence on digital platforms. Despite recent pullbacks, the stock has still doubled in value this year.

The company also disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the board has boosted  its stock repurchase plan to $300 million. That figure includes $65 million that was repurchased under a  previous authorization.

Shares were up 80 cents to $30.21, or 2.72%, in trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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