Monday, March 19, 2012

Apple to initiate stock buyback program, pay first dividend

Apple stock was up slightly less that 1.25 percent in early morning (PDT) trading on Monday, as the company has announced that for the first time, it will pay a dividend on its shares, putting some of the reported $97.1 billion in cash it has locked away to good use.

In addition to the $2.65 per share dividend, Apple announced a stock buyback program, which begins in fiscal 2013 (in terms of the calendar year, Apple's fiscal 2013 begins on Sept. 30). The $10 billion share repurchase program is expected to run over three years.

Meanwhile, the per-share quarterly dividend of $2.65 will begin sometime in fiscal Q4 2012, which for Apple begins on July 1st in terms of the calendar year.

Both programs, combined, are expected to cost Apple $45 billion over the three year stock buyback period. To put matters into perspective, however, Apple made over $13 billion in profit in its last quarter alone.

In an analyst conference call made after the announcement, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that Apple CEO Tim Cook has requested that none of his unvested restricted stock units (RSUs) participate in the dividend program. Oppenheimer added that the total payout was at least partially influenced by Apple's desire to avoid any tax issues involved with "repatriating" its international cash hoard.

Meanwhile, on the same call, Cook noted that Apple still has huge upside. The company still holds less than six percent of the global PC market, for example. He said,

"We have thought very carefully and deeply about our cash balance... these decisions will not close any doors for us."

He also spoke about a possible stock split, as Apple stock is currently around $600 and passed that for a brief time, earlier. In response to that, Cook said,

"That is something we have looked at while looking at this cash question... there's very little support that it helps the stock. However, we are in a unique position at a unique point in time so that this is something we continue to look at. If we reached a decision that it was in the best interest of Apple and its shareholders, then we would do it."

No comments: