The Board of Directors at McDonald''s (NYSE:MCD) approved a dividend increase of nearly 50% today, increasing the annual dividend from 67 cents to $1.00 per share. This dividend will be payable on December the first, 2006 to shareholders of record as of November the fifteenth 2006. Chief Executive Officer of McDonald's, Jim Skinner, said, "Today's nearly 50% boost in the dividend reflects confidence in the ongoing strength of our business and the reliability of our substantial cash flow. This confidence is driven by the success of our customer-centered Plan to Win, which continues to deliver results for customers, members of the McDonald's System and shareholders. Our strategic focus on being better, not just bigger, has driven 40 consecutive months of growth in global comparable sales and contributed to enhanced margins, returns and cash flow.”"This dividend increase is part of our commitment to return more cash to shareholders. We believe that cash available for dividends and share repurchases will continue to grow due to our expected strong results and stable capital expenditures over the next few years. We anticipate total shares outstanding at the end of 2006 to decline by about 5% from year-end 2005, including the effect of the Chipotle exchange offer. As a result, we now expect to return at least $10 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases in 2006 through 2008 and intend to continue to reduce shares outstanding."McDonald's has increased its dividend each and every year since paying its first dividend in 1976. The Company has more than quadrupled the dividend from 23.5 cents per share in 2002 to $1.00 per share in 2006.