August 4, 2010 | last updated May 29, 2012 9:19 pm

UnitedHealth OKs higher dividend

Managed care company UnitedHealth Group Inc., with operations in Hartford, says its board approved the payment of a quarterly dividend of 12.5 cents per share, The Associated Press reports.

The dividend will be paid Sept. 28 to all shareholders of record at the close of business on Sept. 14.

At 11 a.m., UnitedHealth was up 53 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $32.95.

In May, the Minnetonka, Minn.-insurer decided to spend about $560 million over the next 12 months to hike its dividend payments. The company had paid 3 cents per share annually. The new quarterly total amounts to 50 cents per share.

Before May, the insurer had said it would consider a larger dividend after determining the impact on its business of health care reform, which aims to cover millions of uninsured people and poses new taxes and restrictions on insurers.

Health insurers typically offer a token dividend like 3 cents annually, but steady cash flow from larger dividends can make a company's stock more attractive to investors.

UnitedHealth is the largest publicly traded health insurer based on revenue. Last month, it said its second-quarter profit rose 31 percent to $1.12 billion, or 99 cents per share, on $23.26 billion in revenue.

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