Safeway Makes Shareholders Happy

Supermarket operator Safeway (NYSE:SWY) is upping its aggression in buying back stock. The California-based company announced on Monday that it would add $1 billion to its stock buyback program. It already has $400 million left in the buyback fund.

The board of directors meeting on Friday declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.145 per share. The cash dividend will be payable to stockholders on April 12.

Safeway has already spent $1.5 billion on buying back 72 million shares in the period from September 11 through February 22, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Fourth-quarter earnings fell 6.1 percent, as reported last month, while annual sales in 2011 totaled $43.6 billion. However, company stock is up 5.4 percent since the start of the year and shares were unchanged in premarket trade on Monday.

The company operates 1,678 stores in the United States and western Canada and includes brands Vons, Dominick’s and Tom Thumb.

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