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Armstrong World Industries to pay special dividend

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) -- Building products company Armstrong World Industries Inc. said Friday it will pay a special cash dividend of $8.55 per share, using debt and excess cash on hand to return money to shareholders.

Shares rose 4 percent in aftermarket trading. The company did not say why it is making the dividend payment at this time, and did not return a message seeking comment late Friday.

The company makes flooring and ceiling products, and its stock has been steadily climbing since last fall as the housing market slowly improves. The stock was trading at $33.46 in early October, and has gained about 70 percent since then.

Armstrong World Industries said the dividend will be paid April 10 to shareholders of record as of April 3. The ex-dividend date will be March 30.

The company said it using surplus cash to pay the dividend, along with $250 million in debt. The company obtained the debt in part by expanding its senior credit facility to $1.3 billion from $1.05 billion.

Armstrong World Industries said it doesn't know what proportion of the special cash dividend will be treated as a dividend under U.S. tax code. That will depend on how big its profits are at the end of its fiscal year on Dec. 31, the company said.

Shares of Armstrong World Industries rose $2.08, or 3.7 percent, to $58.90 in aftermarket trading. During regular trading Friday shares rose 6 cents to close at $56.82.