Source AP ©

Xerox gets its first quarterly cash dividend in six years

Xerox got first cash dividend in six years Monday and predicted double-digit earnings growth in the coming years.

A dividend of 4.25 cents per share will be payable Jan. 31 for shareholders of record on Dec. 31.

"Declaring a dividend and our continued share repurchase initiatives reflect the health of our business and our belief in the long-term value we're creating for Xerox shareholders," said Anne M. Mulcahy, Xerox chief executive officer.

While the company doesn't release it's share projections, it said the dividend would account for about 10 percent of its cash in the next fiscal year.

Shares of the printer and copier company rose 1.8 percent, or 28 cents, to $16.10 in afternoon trading.

The announcement was another triumph for Mulcahy, who took over the teetering Xerox in 2001, when it was loaded down by billions in debt and a huge accounting scandal.

Xerox has dramatically improved its balance sheet and introduced 100 new products in the past three years, Mulcahy said. The company has made key acquisitions, paid down debt, bought back stock and its bond rating has returned to investment grade.

Since launching a stock buyback program in October 2005, Xerox has repurchased about 129 million shares totaling $2 billion (1.36 billion EUR), according to the company.

The Norwalk-based Xerox Corp. said Monday it expects 2008 earnings per share growth in the range of $1.31 to $1.35, and double-digit earnings expansion continuing in 2009, to the range of $1.45 to $1.50.

Xerox said again it is on track to deliver full-year 2007 earnings per share in the range of $1.18 to $1.20.

Three months ago the company introduced a printer that it said lowered the cost of color printing to that of black and white, one of 19 color products released this year, as it strengthens ties with smaller and medium sized businesses.

"There is an explosion of information happening, yet people demand quick access to relevant content that cuts through the clutter," Mulcahy said in a statement. "Add to it ever increasing complexity and you have a set of trends that play right into Xerox's sweet spot - the management and sharing of information."