Benton Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR) said Monday that its board of directors had approved a 16.3 percent increase in the dividend on its common stock.

The dividend was boosted to 50 cents a share from 43 cents a share. The new, higher dividend will be paid June 15 to stockholders of record at the close of business on May 20.

“Our strong financial position enables us to enhance our returns to shareholders through a dividend increase,” said Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool chairman and CEO. “This dividend increase represents our confidence that continued investments in consumer-relevant innovations to advance our global brand offerings; expansion into higher-margin, faster growing businesses; and our strong position in emerging markets will generate growth and provide long-term value for our shareholders.”

Whirlpool is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of more than $18 billion in 2010, 71,000 employees, and 66 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world.  The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world.

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