HCA joins year-end dividend frenzy

Three weeks after $1.2B payout, hospital giant will issue another $1B in debt

Less than a month after paying investors a special dividend of $2.50 per share, HCA Holdings on Monday morning said it will join plenty of other big corporate names in squeezing in another cash payout before year's end, thereby avoiding a likely increase in tax rates in 2013.

HCA officials said they plan to issue another $1 billion in debt to cover the latest dividend payment of $2 per share. If that offering is successful — and the company's track record in recent years suggests there's no reason it won't be — shareholders can expect to receive their dividend by New Year's Eve. As has been the case since HCA went private in 2006 and public again in March 2011, the biggest beneficiaries will be private-equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Bain Capital as well as management and members of the Frist family, who still control more than half of HCA's shares.

More than 100 companies — including big names such as Costco, Brown-Forman and Las Vegas Sands — have paid or plan to pay a special dividend to avoid higher 2013 rates. A recent Credit Suisse study showed that companies rolling out special payouts generally got a share price boost on the news as well as in the weeks that followed. Shares of HCA (Ticker: HCA) closed Friday trading at $31.75 and are up more than 40 percent this year.