Microsoft Doubles Annual Dividend - 1

Microsoft Corp. is doubling its annual dividend to 16 cents a share.

REDMOND, Wash. (AP)—Microsoft Corp. is doubling its annual dividend to 16 cents a share.

The fiscal 2004 dividend—only the companys second ever—is payable Nov. 7 to shareholders of record at the close of business Oct. 17.

A company news release described the payment as Microsofts "second annual dividend," apparently because it is being paid in the companys fiscal year 2004, which began July 1. The software giant paid its first ever dividend in March.

The announcement comes less than two months after a top executive threw cold water on the idea. At an annual conference for analysts July 25, Microsoft chief financial officer John Connors insisted that the company had no plans to declare another dividend, despite its $49 billion cash hoard.

As he had said in the previous week, Connors told the analysts that Microsoft would not issue another dividend until a number of legal issues were resolved, including an inquiry by the European Union and a lawsuit by Sun Microsystems alleging uncompetitive practices.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the apparent turnabout. A Microsoft spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.