GE dividend hike not contingent on NBC sale: CFO

BOSTON (BestGrowthStock) – The timing of General Electric Co’s (GE.N: ) planned 2011 dividend increase is not dependent on the closing of its sale of a majority stake in its NBC Universal media business, a top executive said on Friday.

“There is no connection between our current outlook for the dividend and whether the NBC deal closes or not,” Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin said. “We expect to increase the dividend in 2011.”

GE in December reached an agreement to sell most of NBC Universal to No. 1 U.S. cable operator Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O: ). The company expects that deal to close by the end of the year, though closing is dependent on regulatory reviews.

The largest U.S. conglomerate’s goal is to pay out about 45 percent of its earnings to shareholders through the dividend, Sherin said, though he noted that is a rough figure, not a “hard and fast” rule. In the second quarter, the company paid a dividend of 10 cents per share on profits from continuing operations of 30 cents per share, putting its payout ratio at about 33 percent. [ID:nN16144753]

“We’re not even doing that out of earnings today,” Sherin said of the 45 percent target. “We have an opportunity to increase the dividend for 2011 just based on our current performance.”

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

GE dividend hike not contingent on NBC sale: CFO