Zoetis Boosts Dividend After Ackman Raises Stake

Zoetis Inc., the animal drug company that activist investor Bill Ackman has taken a stake in, boosted its quarterly dividend by 15 percent.

The revised dividend is 8.3 cents a share, payable March 3 to stockholders as of Jan. 22, the Florham Park, New Jersey-based company said today in a statement. Zoetis was expected to raise the payment to 8 cents, from 7.2 cents currently, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We continued to demonstrate the strength of our business model and deliver our long-term value proposition, including returning capital to our shareholders through our quarterly dividends,” Chief Executive Officer Juan Ramon Alaix said in the statement.

Ackman sees a big opportunity to cut costs at the company, people familiar with the matter said last month. Zoetis adopted a shareholder rights plan to help block a hostile takeover after Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management said on Nov. 12 that it was acquiring a stake of about 8.5 percent. Activist investors often apply pressure for a sale, restructuring or increased dividends and share buybacks.

Pershing Square held 41.6 million shares of Zoetis, or 8.3 percent, as of Dec. 4 and is the drug company’s largest stockholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Zoetis was spun off by Pfizer Inc. last year.

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