Geo gets favorable REIT ruling form IRS

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -- The Geo Group Inc. has received a favorable ruling from the Internal Revenue Services about its conversion to a real estate investment trust.

The company's shares hit an all-time high Friday.

Geo, a private-prison operator, said Friday that its board authorized the company to elect REIT status effective this year.

Last month Geo said that its board unanimously authorized the company to take all necessary steps, including the sale of some health care assets, that would set the business up to operate under the IRS's real estate investment trust rules.

Geo said at the time that the decision came after a thorough analysis of ways to maximize shareholder value, including alternative financing, capital and other strategies.

Real estate investment trusts receive special tax consideration and return 90 percent of their profits to investors.

Geo also announced Friday that its board declared its first quarterly dividend as a REIT, of 50 cents per share. It will be paid on March 1 to shareholders of record on Feb. 15.

Geo's operations include 101 correctional, detention and community re-entry facilities, including projects under development, and 73,000 owned and/or managed beds.

Shares rose $2.22, or 7.2 percent, to $32.94 in afternoon trading. The stock hit an all-time high of $33.28 earlier in the session.