Caterpillar Inc. announced it's raising its quarterly dividend by 20 percent, in part in response to improved earnings.

The dividend of $1.03 per share of stock is payable Aug. 20 to shareholders as of July 22, the Deerfield-based company stated in a news release Thursday.

Caterpillar also plans to repurchase shares more consistently. The goal is to help offset dilution in market downturns, according to the release.

"Our enterprise strategy for profitable growth is working," Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Umpleby stated.

Last month, the earth-moving giant formerly based in Peoria announced first-quarter earnings that beat investor expectations.

Caterpillar expects to increase the dividend by a high single-digit percentage in each of the next four years, the release stated.

The company's investor meeting was to begin Thursday afternoon in Clayton, N.C.

On the New York Stock Exchange, Caterpillar shares closed Wednesday at $138.15. In trading before the market opened Thursday, shares were $139.01, an increase of .6 percent.