The Pepsi Bottling Group has posted a healthy rise in its annual dividend.

The company said yesterday (23 March) that its board of directors had authorised a 38% increase in the dividend, marking the third consecutive annual rise. The group will pay US$0.44 per share. At the same time, a quarterly dividend of US$0.11, per share will be paid on 30 June to shareholders of record on 9 June.

"Consistently solid cash flow generation has been a key priority at PBG," said PBG chairman and CEO John T. Cahill. "Our success in this area has allowed us to continue to drive shareholder value. Last year, we returned more than 100% of our operating free cash flow to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.

"I'm very pleased that we are able to increase the dividend again this year, which clearly speaks to the health of our business and the board's confidence in our future plans."

Earlier this month, PBG said that it expects full-year 2006 diluted earnings per share to be in the range of US$1.76 to US$1.84. The company also forecast worldwide physical case volume this year to grow by about 3%.