NEW YORK -- Perhaps it was the record earnings, the near-record stock price or the board's decision to raise the dividend 60 percent -- or perhaps it was just the elegant setting in Carnegie Hall.
Whatever the reason, Primerica Corp.'s annual meeting yesterday was an amiable, brief affair, interrupted only for laudatory comments from the 80 people spread throughout the famous New York theater's hundreds of seats.
"When you have a great artist, the hall fills up," said Chief Executive Sanford Weill in a moment of reflection after the meeting. "The only time the hall fills up [for a company meeting] is when you're doing lousy."
Primerica, a diversified financial services company, announced a dividend increase from 12 1/2 cents a share to 20 cents as the meeting began. It was the sixth consecutive increase since Primerica, then Commercial Credit, went public in 1986.
The company announced last week that it earned nearly $221 million in its quarter that ended March 31.
"I now feel more confident about our prospects than perhaps ever before," Mr. Weill said.
The business of the Baltimore-based Commercial Credit division, he said, could be further enhanced through branch expansion, improved productivity or acquisitions.
At yesterday's meeting, Joseph Minutilli retired as a member of the company's board. He had been head of Commercial Credit when it was spun off by Control Data and taken public by Mr. Weill and had since served in a non-operating role.
"It's been a transformation," Mr. Minutilli said. "In 1984 and 1985, Control Data tried, and failed, to sell the company. The progress since then has been sensational."
In compensation for his service as a director, Mr. Minutilli received 8,700 shares of Primerica stock.
He intends to move from Baltimore to Pennsylvania.