Microsoft Corp., the world's biggest software maker, raised its quarterly dividend 25 percent to 20 cents, providing investors with a payout at the upper end of forecasts.

The new dividend is a penny more the 19 cents a share projected by Bloomberg data and compares with the 18 cents to 20 cents estimated by Heather Bellini, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York. The change, announced in a statement today, boosts the yield to 2.97 percent from 2.37 percent.

Microsoft generally has a policy of boosting the dividend in line with operating income. While the increase exceeded the 13 percent growth in operating income in the past fiscal year, investors were seeking more, Bellini said. The company's cash and short-term investments surged 43 percent last year, and shareholders wanted a bigger piece of that hoard.

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