10/22/2012 08:11 EDT | Updated 12/22/2012 05:12 EST

Agrium stock hits 4-yr high after fertilizer producer doubles dividend

CALGARY - Agrium Inc. (TSX:AGU) announced a pair of initiatives on Monday that will put more cash in its shareholders' pockets, pushing the fertilizer company's stock to a four-year high.

The Calgary-based fertilzer company says it will double the company's dividend to US$2 per share annually and switch to a quarterly payment schedule.

It's also putting the final touches on a share buyback program that will move about $900 million from Agrium's coffers to investors that sell their stock.

Agrium says it will repurchase about 8.72 million of its shares for C$103 each under a previously announced buyback program.

It announced last month that it expected to sell the shares for between $95 and $107 each.

The company's stock closed official trading on Friday at $103.95, up from $98.22 when the share buyback was announced Sept. 10.

Following Monday's announcement, Agrium's shares gained $1.55 to trade at $105.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. That's just short of a high of $109.95 set on June 30, 2008.

Agrium has been under pressure from New York hedge fund Jan Partners, which had argued the company should spin off its retail division to boost the stock price.