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Noble Energy hikes dividend, OKs stock split

HOUSTON (AP) -- Noble Energy Inc. said Monday that it raised its quarterly dividend and approved a two-for-one stock split in a move that could make the oil and gas stock more attractive to new investors.

Companies typically split their stock when they think that the price of an individual share has gotten too expensive or if the stock is trading too far above similar companies' shares. The value of each shareholder's stake remains the same, with more stock owned at a lower price for each share.

The stock has been trading at all-time highs over the last few months, peaking at $118.48 on April 11. Shares rose $1.40 to close at $108.61 on Monday.

Noble raised its dividend to 28 cents from 25 cents, payable May 20 to shareholders of record on May 6.

The company, which has U.S. operations in the Marcellus Shale and deepwater Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore in the Eastern Mediterranean and West Africa, had 178.7 million shares on the market as of Jan. 18. Noble Energy stockholders will receive one additional share of the company for every share they own.

The new shares will be distributed May 28 to shareholders of record on May 14, and the stock will start trading on a split-adjusted basis on May 29.