updated 9/27/2006 11:20:19 AM ET 2006-09-27T15:20:19

McDonald's Corp. shares jumped to a new six-year high Wednesday after the world's largest fast-food chain raised its annual dividend 49 percent, part of efforts to return more cash to shareholders.

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The distribution of $1 a share, up from 67 cents, will be paid Dec. 1 to shareholders of record on Nov. 15.

Based on the new rate, McDonald's will be spending more than $1.2 billion annually on dividends.

"We believe that cash available for dividends and share repurchases will continue to grow due to our expected strong results and stable capital expenditures over the next few years," CEO Jim Skinner said in a statement.

McDonald's said it plans to return $10 billion to shareholders between 2006 and 2008.

Shares in the company were up sharply on the New York Stock Exchange after climbing as high as $39.89 — their highest price since May 24, 2000. The stock has risen more than 17 percent this year.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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