Specialty chemical company Albemarle Corp. says its board approved an increase of its existing stock buyback program to 5 million shares.

The Baton Rouge company said Thursday it bought back three million shares under the program during the third quarter, reducing its total number of outstanding shares to about 88.8 million as of Sept. 30.

Also on Thursday, the company said its board approved the increase of its regular quarterly dividend by 1 cent, or about 6 percent, to 17.5 cents.

The dividend will be paid on Jan. 1 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 15, Albemarle said.

In morning trading, Albemarle shares fell 49 cents to $46.95.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press