While it hasn't been among the sexiest names in the Technology sector for quite some time, AOL (AOL) has quietly been having an amazing year. The company's share price has tripled over the last year to over , outperforming even the best in breed competitors such as Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT), and even trouncing more popular upstarts like Facebook (FB) and Zynga (ZNGA). Now the company is making an even bigger splash, announcing a special dividend of $5.15 per share and a $600 millions share repurchase program. The company hopes to return $1.1 billion to shareholders from proceeds of a patent sale to Microsoft earlier this year.
The share repurchase program will be completed through an accelerated stock repurchase agreement with Barclays Bank PLC (BCS) through a previously approved stock buyback authorization.
The special dividend will be paid on Dec. 14, 2012 to shareholders of record at the close of Dec. 5.
“Today’s announcement underscores AOL’s commitment to delivering value for our shareholders,” AOL's CEO Tim Armstrong said in statement. “AOL remains committed to creating and unlocking value for all shareholders through smart execution and disciplined management of our asset portfolio.”
Armstrong, who took over in 2009 when the company had essentially been left for dead by Wall Street, has led a turnaround by redefining the company as a media giant with its hyperlocal Patch Media outlets and national online publications like The Huffington Post. However, the company has also enjoyed a stabilizing customer base for its legacy subscription services. The company also managed to turn a profit--even after excluding the Microsoft deal--during its more recent quarter, marking the first time AOL was not in the red since spinning off from Time Warner (TWC) in 2009.
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