Walt Disney Co., the world's largest entertainment company,raised its annual dividend by 25 percent, joining other companiesboosting their payouts ahead of an expected tax-rate increase nextyear.

The 75-cent-a-share payment will be made on Dec. 28 toshareholders as of Dec. 10, the Burbank, California-based companysaid yesterday in a statement. The previous 60-cent annual dividendwas paid to investors in January.

The early payment allows Disney investors to sidestep a possibleincrease in the tax rate, which is set to rise as high as 39.6percent from 15 percent with the year-end expiration of Bush-eratax cuts. Disney's yield of 1.5 percent remains below the 2.2percent average of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and canclimb more, said Michael Foss, a portfolio manager.

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