Brown Deer-based Badger Meter Inc. sought to put an end to speculation that the company might be sold, announcing Friday that it has completed a strategic review and that its board of directors approved a 15 percent increase in the cash dividend payment and a 2-for-1 stock split.
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Badger Meter Inc.'s headquarters in Brown Deer.[/caption]
In May, the Wall Street Journal reported
that the company was exploring the possibility of a sale. At that time, the company confirmed it was exploring its strategic options
Companies often do strategic reviews, but don't announce them publicly, said Richard A. Meeusen, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Badger Meter. But he said the company had to respond to the Wall Street Journal story in May.
"A public company is always for sale," Meeusen told BizTimes on Friday. "Anyone can come in and make an offer at any time."
Meeusen said he wanted to stop the speculation about a possible sale of Badger Meter and the conclusion of the strategic review was the opportunity to do so.
"Since that was out there I had to put an end to it," he said.
Friday's announcement will make it easier to attend the company picnic planned for Saturday, Meeusen said.
"I've had employees that had a lot of concerns about what was going to happen with Badger Meter," he said.
The board's actions Friday demonstrate confidence in the future of the company, Meeusen said.
"The board felt confident enough in the future strength of the company to do a higher than usual dividend increase (of 15 percent) and the stock split," he said. “This is our 24th consecutive year of increased dividend payments."
In addition, Meeusen indicated that Badger Meter plans to increase its acquisition activity.
Last year, the company acquired Smryna, Tennessee-based United Utilites Inc.
, a distributor of Badger Meter products for the municipal water utility market in Georgia and Tennessee. In 2014, Badger Meter acquired its Denver-based distributor National Meter and Automation Inc.
Badger Meter plans to seek more opportunities to acquire other distributors of its products, and to make strategic acquisitions in the flow and instrumentation areas, Meeusen said.
"We are going to become more aggressive on the acquisition front," he said. “The strategic review confirmed that with our strong cash flow and solid balance sheet, we have the ability to pursue acquisition opportunities."
The company said it also plans to continue to expand into select international water metering markets, including the Middle East.