It would not be a reach to say that Microsoft's $32 billion extra dividend, to be paid on Dec. 2, could exceed all such extras ever granted. More typical is CDI's $2 special dividend announced on July 22. For CDI, a small staffer-and-outsourcer, the payout is $39.2 million. Cyclical companies sometimes take this route instead of raising the regular quarterly dividend, says Joseph Lisanti, editor of Standard & Poor's newsletter The Outlook. This way, they can avoid cutting the dividend if business slumps.
The number of extras is rebounding after a long slide. Through June 30, payouts hit 154, up from 127 in the same period last year, says S&P. You can't tell what kind of year it will be for extras until Christmas. Last year, 197 were announced in December.
Yes, they're ready-to-drink iced teas, but they're not like Nestea. The newest teas in single-serve plastic bottles come in exotic black, green, oolong, and white varieties, use little or no added sugar, and reject artificial flavors and preservatives.
Honest Tea in Bethesda, Md., is putting its most popular glass-bottled organic teas into 15.5-oz. wide-mouth plastic bottles. The four kinds are "just a tad sweet," as the label says, and include Lori's lemon (a black tea), green dragon (a green tea), peach oo-la-long (oolong), and caffeine-free Black Forest berry, an herbal infusion.
Two other tea makers skip sweeteners entirely. Organic purveyor The Republic of Tea in Novato, Calif., is offering 12-oz. minaret-shaped bottles in nine flavors, including ginger peach decaf, raspberry quince, and orange blossom. Revolution Tea, a Tempe (Ariz.) maker of loose and bagged tea, is launching its White-T line of white teas in stark white, 12-oz. bottles. They come in Key lime, tangerine, raspberry, and blackberry. Priced from $1.49 to $2.29 a bottle, the new teas are popping up everywhere, from corner delis to country clubs.
Usually, if you don't wipe your car by hand after a wash, you'll end up with a clean car covered with white spots from the minerals in the water. But Mr. Clean AutoDry, a $20 soap-and-rinse dispenser that hooks up to a garden hose, uses replaceable filters similar to the disposable filters for faucets and pitcher water purifiers to give your car a final rinse. Water sheets off, and the car air drys with no white residue.
Looking for a cool vacation? How about an ice-breaker adventure to the Arctic? Celebrity Cruises (RCL) (866 973-8466) and Quark Expeditions are offering 14-day trips (11 nights on board) leaving from Ottawa (from which you fly to the embarkation point) on Aug. 11 and Sept. 3. They're slashing fares 25% to fill cabins, starting at $6,750 per person. If the Arctic dates don't work, discounted Antarctic cruises (11 nights on board) sail on Oct. 25 and Nov. 5 from southern Argentina.