Farmland Partners Inc.'s board lowered the company's quarterly dividend for the third quarter to 5 cents per common share from 12.75 cents per share and increased its share repurchase authorization by $30 million to up to $38.5 million of common shares or series B perpetual preferred stock.
The dividend cut follows the July 11 drop in the company's stock price in the wake of a blog post on Seeking Alpha by an anonymous short seller alleging that the company artificially inflated rents. Farmland Partners denied the allegations, and it subsequently sued the blog's author and related parties.
The REIT said its board will review the dividend in subsequent quarters. Farmland Partners will finance the buybacks with asset sales and the reduced dividend.
In reporting its second-quarter earnings Aug. 8, Farmland Partners updated its 2018 guidance for adjusted funds from operations per share to a range of 30 cents to 34 cents from a prior range of 40 cents to 44 cents. The REIT said the revision mainly takes into account adverse revenue and cost impacts following the blog post. The revision also reflects the company's investment of funds in share repurchases, rather than in acquisitions and capital improvements.
The dividend will be paid Oct. 15 to stockholders of record Oct. 1. The company's board also declared a quarterly cash dividend of 5 cents per class A common operating partnership unit, payable Oct. 15 to unit holders of record Oct. 1.