(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 03--Electro Scientific Industries said this afternoon that it will pay a special dividend of $2 a share on Dec. 27, a month after it won a $16.3 million patent infringement settlement from a Taiwanese company.
The news sent ESI's shares soaring nearly 13 percent in after-hours trading.
"Today's announcement reflects our commitment to return excess cash to shareholders following our recent successful patent settlement," chief executive Nick Konidaris said in a written statement. "The board believes a special dividend paid at this time represents an opportunistic and tax-efficient way to return value to shareholders."
Many companies are paying dividends before the end of the year, anticipating that tax rates could go up in 2013 regardless of whether or not lawmakers in Washington, D.C., resolve their "fiscal cliff" negotiations.
ESI makes equipment used by semiconductor manufacturers and other electronics companies.
It had nearly 30 million shares outstanding at the end of September, according to its recent financial statement. So the special dividend will cost the company close to $60 million.
ESI had about $200 million in cash, restricted cash and short-term investments at the end of September.
The company began paying a quarterly dividend a year ago, after activist investor David Nierenberg joined the company's board. He had argued that ESI should return more of its cash to shareholders.
ESI's stock closed down 31 cents today at $10.53, then leapt $1.34 in after-hours trading following the dividend announcement. In the past year, the stock has traded between $9.85 and $17.
-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; phone: 503-294-7699
(c)2012 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services