Will Big Payout Milk Dean Foods Dry?

Investors cheered the dairy producer's debt-financed $15-a-share special dividend, but ratings agencies soured on the company

Dean Foods (DF) has been growing since the 1990s by using its cash to gobble up other companies. But now the dairy company said March 2 that it plans to raise $4.8 billion of debt and pay around $2 billion back to shareholders in a one-time special cash dividend payable on April 2. The Dallas company says it will now change its focus to growth in the coming years from internal improvements in its operations.

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