Avista Corp. is rewarding stockholders with higher quarterly cash dividends.
Dividends for common stock will go up by 3 cents a share, or 17 percent, for a total of 21 cents a share. The next payment is June 15.
At Avista’s annual meeting Thursday, officials at the Spokane-based utility said the increase will bring Avista’s dividends closer to those paid by other utilities, said Mark Thies, Avista’s chief financial officer.
In the past 18 months, Avista has raised its dividend three times. More increases are on the way.
Within four years, Avista hopes to achieve a 60 percent to 70 percent dividend payout ratio, which is the percentage of earnings paid to shareholders in cash. By the end of 2009, Avista’s payout ratio should hit 54 percent, Thies said.
Higher dividends help attract investors, which is important as the company looks for ways to finance about $200 million in capital costs each year, Thies said.
In other news, a resolution requiring annual elections for Avista’s board of directors received 58 percent of shareholders votes.
But Jason Lang, Avista’s manager of investor relations, said the board will not act on the resolution. Shareholder resolutions must garner 80 percent approval for the board to enact them, he said.
Gerald Armstrong, a stockholder from Denver, proposed the resolution. He said annual elections of the entire board would make members more accountable to shareholders. Currently, Avista’s board members serve staggered terms.
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