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Medtronic raises dividend 2 cents to 28 cents

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Medtronic Inc. is increasing its quarterly dividend by 2 cents to 28 cents and may buy back up to 80 million of its shares as part of its effort to return 50 percent of its free cash flow to shareholders.

The dividend is payable July 26 to shareholders on July 5, the company said Thursday. It's the 36th straight year the medical device maker has increased its payout to investors.

The company also said its board approved a share buyback program of up to 80 million shares, or 8 percent of the stock outstanding. Medtronic bought 31 million of its shares in the fiscal year through April.

Companies buy back stock in an effort to increase the value of shareholders' existing stakes and offset the effect of paying employees in stock.

Medtronic shares closed down 1.7 percent at $51.19 Thursday, as the broader Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.3 percent. The company's shares have risen 25 percent in 2013.