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Seaboard to prepay 4 years of dividends

SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. (AP) -- Seaboard Corp. said Friday that it will pay the next four years of its dividends in 2012 so shareholders can benefit from the currently low tax rates on such income.

The agribusiness company's dividend of $12 per share is payable Dec. 28 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 17.

Seaboard said this payment represents the total for annual dividends that would otherwise be paid in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The company will not declare any more dividends until after 2016.

Seaboard is the latest company to move up its dividends or issue a special end-of-year payment to protect investors from potentially having to pay higher taxes on dividend income starting in January.

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.

Seaboard shares fell $9.75 to close at $2,405.74.