Shares of Newport Beach-based American Vanguard Corp. jumped more than 6% in early trading today, following the news of a dividend boost.

The company’s shares hit a new high for the past 12 months, reaching a market value of $917.3 million.

American Vanguard makes specialty agriculture products.

The company’s semi-annual cash dividend was raised to 7 cents per share from 5 cents.

The payments are scheduled for distribution in October.

“This … brings our total calendar 2012 distribution to 12 cents, a 50% increase over the 8 cents distributed in 2011,” Chief Executive Eric Wintemute said.

The company also has appointed retired lawyer Jerome Cohen as a member of the board of directors to serve on the audit committee and the nominating and corporate governance committee.

Cohen fills the seat left by the passing of John Miles in February.

Cohen practiced law for about 40 years in New York and Los Angeles before retiring in 2008. He co-founded the Los Angeles office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP and served as managing partner.

He is a former director of Woodland Hills-based Zenith National Insurance Corp., and currently is a director of the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica and vice-chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.