Regal declares $1 per share special dividend

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Movie theater owner Regal Entertainment Group said Thursday that its board had declared a special cash dividend of $1 per share, payable on Dec. 27 to stockholders of record as of Dec. 11. Its shares rose in extended trading.

The special dividend will not affect the previously announced dividend of 21 cents per share, payable on Dec. 14 to stockholders of record on Dec. 5.

Many companies are paying out special dividends before the start of the new year to avoid a possible increase on taxes for investors.

Since 2003 investors have paid a maximum 15 percent on dividend income. But that historically low rate will expire in January unless Congress and President Barack Obama reach a compromise on taxes and government spending.

As it stands, dividends will be taxed as ordinary income in 2013, the same as wages, so rates will go up depending on which income bracket a taxpayer is in. For the highest earners, the dividend rate would jump to 43.4 percent.

Regal also said Thursday that had completed its acquisition of Great Escape Theatres, which operates 25 locations in states such as Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky for $91 million in cash.

Regal CEO Amy Miles said the acquisition will add 300 high-quality screens to its portfolio of more than 6,000 and will immediately add to earnings and cash flow.

Regal shares rose 61 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $16.43 in after-hours trading, after climbing 21 cents, or 1.4 percent, to end the regular session at $15.82.