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FBL Financial Enhances Dividend by 133%

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The board of directors of FBL Financial Group Inc. (FFG - Free Report) recently approved a 133% increase in its quarterly cash dividend. The multi line insurer will now pay a dividend of 35 cents per share significantly higher than 15 cents distributed previously. The first increased dividend will be paid on Mar 31, 2014 to shareholders of record as of Mar 14.

The increased quarterly dividend is equivalent to an annual dividend of $1.40 per share. Based on Friday’s closing share price of $40.08, the increased dividend implies a yield of 3.49%, which is substantially higher than the industry average yield of 1.49%.

Strong business growth resulted in record earnings for FBL Financial during 2013 and also generated excess capital. The strong capital balance coupled with substantial retained earnings cushions the solid capital deployment activity of the company.

Based on nearly 25.8 million shares outstanding as of 2013 end, FBL Financial will have to dish out nearly $9 million for the quarterly dividend payout.

Besides delivering dividends consistently, FBL Financial is also garnering investors’ confidence through its share repurchase activities. On Feb 20, 2014, the board of directors at the company approved a new share repurchase authorization of $50 million of its Class A common stock.

The new authorization will be effective following the expiration of the existing repurchase authorization of $30 million. Presently $20.3 million is remaining under the current authorization which will expire on Mar 31, 2014.

The board of another property and casualty insurer, AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. (AFSI - Free Report) hiked its regular quarterly dividend by 43% on Feb 18, 2014. The company will now be paying quarterly dividends of 20 cents per share, up from 14 cents a share paid previously.

FBL Financial presently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Other top-ranked stocks in the same space that are worth mentioning include Old Republic International Corp. (ORI - Free Report) and AEGON N.V. (AEG - Free Report) . Both these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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