OAK BROOK, Ill. – McDonald's Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.61 per share of common stock payable on Dec.15 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Dec. 1. This represents an 11% increase over its previous quarterly dividend rate and brings the fourth-quarter dividend payout to approximately $650 million.

"With today's announced dividend increase, we expect the 2010 total cash returned to shareholders to be approximately $5 billion, split between dividends and share repurchases," said Jim Skinner, McDonald's chief executive officer.

“We remain committed to maintaining financial discipline and enhancing shareholder value,” he added. “Our first priority is to reinvest in our business by allocating capital where we expect to drive sales and cash flow, generating strong returns. After these investment opportunities, we expect to return all of our free cash flow to shareholders over the long term through dividends and share repurchases. Today's dividend increase demonstrates our confidence in the long-term strength of our brand."

McDonald's has raised its dividend each and every year since paying its first dividend in 1976. The new quarterly dividend of $0.61 per share is equivalent to $2.44 per share annually.