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Home Depot boosts its stock buyback plan by $1 billion

ATLANTA - Home Depot Inc., the nation's biggest home improvement retailer, on Thursday said its board authorized the repurchase of an additional $1 billion worth of outstanding shares, bringing the total buyback authorization to $12 billion.

Since the company's program began in 2002, Home Depot has repurchased $9.7 billion in stock, as of the end of fiscal 2005.

There are about 2.12 billion shares of Home Depot currently outstanding. The stock, which has traded in a 52-week range of $34.56 to $43.98, closed down 30 cents at $41.58 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Home Depot also declared a fourth-quarter dividend of 15 cents per share, is payable on March 23 to shareholders of record on the close of business on March 9.

Over the past five years, the company said it has returned over 58 percent of its net earnings cumulatively to its shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases.