STAMFORD, Conn. -- The GTE Board of Directors today declared a regular quarterly common stock dividend of 47 cents per share, and authorized the company to repurchase up to an additional 20 million shares of its currently issued stock in the open market or in privately negotiated transactions.
The dividend is payable on Oct. 1, 1997, to GTE shareholders of record as of Aug. 22, 1997, and is GTE's 245th consecutive dividend. There are approximately 955 million shares outstanding. The annualized rate of $1.88 is unchanged.
Our continued strong dividend and expanded share repurchase program demonstrate GTE's commitment to maximizing long-term total return to shareholders through a combination of dividends and stock price appreciation, said GTE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charles R. Lee.
The Boards decisions reflect GTE's continuing growth in cash flow and strengthened credit position, as confirmed by our 1997 upgrade by Standard & Poor's, Lee said. The authorization to repurchase an additional 20 million shares while continuing to maintain a strong credit profile is further indication of GTEs substantial capacity to generate cash flow and of our unique and profitable competitive position.
The 20 million-share repurchase program announced today is in addition to the 25 million-share buy-back program that GTE announced in August 1996. The repurchase of shares under this new program, and the 6 million remaining shares under the 1996 program, will occur from time to time in the future, depending upon market conditions and the companys need to finance new or expanded business opportunities. The shares acquired will be made available for use in the company's employee-benefit and dividend-reinvestment programs, as well as for other general corporate purposes.
With revenues of more than $21 billion in 1996, GTE is one of the largest publicly held telecommunications companies in the world. In the United States, GTE offers local and wireless service in 29 states and long-distance service in all 50 states. GTE was the first among its peers to offer one-stop shopping for local, long-distance and Internet access services. Outside the United States, where GTE has operated for more than 40 years, the company serves approximately 7 million customers. GTE is also a leader in government and defense communications systems and equipment, directories and telecommunications-based information services, and aircraft-passenger telecommunications.