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The leading health care chain Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB - Analyst Report) increased its dividend yet again on Feb 21, 2013 by 9.5% to 81 cents per share from the 74 cents per share it paid in 2012.

Kimberly Clark regularly returns value to its shareholders and has increased its dividend every year over the last 41 years. The last increase was in Feb 2012, by 5.7% to 74 cents per share.

The quarterly dividend will be paid on April 2, 2013 to shareholders of record as on March 8, 2013. The new annualized dividend yield will be 3.5% per common share, up from the current yield of 3.2%.

The underlying strength of the business and management’s inclination to return value to shareholders drove the dividend hike. Kimberly Clark is one of the high-yielding stocks among its peers in the consumer product industry. Peers such as Procter & Gamble Co. (PG - Analyst Report), Colgate-Palmolive Co. (CL - Analyst Report) and The Clorox Company (CLX - Analyst Report) yield a much lower dividend yield of 2.9%, 2.2% and 3.1%, respectively.

Besides boosting its dividend, the company also returns value to shareholders through share repurchases. The company repurchased approximately 3.8 million shares for $320 million in 2012, which followed a repurchase of 16.4 million shares in fiscal 2012 for $1.3 billion. It expects to spend $1.0 to $1.2 billion on share repurchases this year.

Kimberly Clark recently delivered better-than-expected fourth quarter 2012 adjusted earnings (excluding charges) of $1.37 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. Adjusted earnings also surpassed the comparable prior-year quarter’s earnings of $1.28 per share by 7.0%.

Currently Kimberly-Clark holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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