SAN FRANCISCO — Apple announced Monday that it would pay a quarterly stock dividend of $2.65 a share beginning in the quarter that starts in July, and its board authorized a $10 billion share buyback. The moves will reward investors by using up some of the company’s cash hoard of nearly $100 billion and likely attract a new group of investors to buy the stock.
But the actions are not likely to reduce the amount of cash in the company’s coffers because Apple continues to generate so much money from its business.
In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Apple executives said the plan would place Apple among the top dividend-paying companies in the United States, but would leave it with the flexibility to make big investments that help keep up its growth. (...)
Even with the dividend and share buyback plan, Apple is expected to continue to add significant amounts of money to its cash balance, which stood at $97.6 billion at the end of 2011. If Apple consumes about $15 billion a year in cash for its stock buybacks and dividends, it is generating so much new cash from its business that its total cash balance at the end of fiscal 2013 could be around $180 billion, estimated Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.
While the bulk of the money it spends will go to its dividend, Apple said its share repurchase will amount to $10 billion over three years. Its primary purpose is to eliminate the shareholder dilution that will occur from future Apple employee equity grants and stock purchase programs. (...)
A. M. Sacconaghi Jr., an analyst with Bernstein Research, said before the announcement that one challenge Apple faced was that its stock had appreciated so much that some growth fund managers were bumping into limits on how concentrated their funds can be in any single stock. Mr. Sacconaghi said issuing a dividend could help Apple appeal to new types of value investors. He said a recent increase in Apple shares had partly been caused by more of those value investors’ buying the stock in anticipation of a dividend. “It will attract a broader class of investor,” he said.