Disney plans to buy back up to $8 billion in stock in 2014

The Walt Disney Co. will repurchase up to $8 billion in stock next year, giving a major boost to investor returns, the company's chief financial officer Jay Rasulo said Thursday. 

In remarks at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills, Rasulo cited confidence in the return on Disney's investments, the overall company, and its stock price, which has increased 25% to $65.49 a share so far this year.

"We really see the opportunity, given where the share price is, given where the capital markets are, to target at least $6 [billion] and possibly up to $8 billion in buyback," he said.  

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This is a significant increase in the company's program to return capital to investors. Disney has been repurchasing shares at a pace of about $4 billion a year for the last couple of years. 

The company probably will have to borrow to reach that target. Still, Rasulo said the company would be able to increase the buyback while maintaining its debt rating of "A."

Shares of the Burbank-based entertainment giant increased 2.4% Thursday, while the broader market fell. The company's market capitalization is now nearly $117 billion.   

Last year, the company boosted its dividend by 25% to 75 cents a share. 


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