After a mysterious media alert had everyone guessing what Apple might do with its $100 billion, the company has decided to go the dividends and stock buyback route. Specifically, the company expects to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share sometime in the fourth quarter. Since CEO Tim Cook took over, he has mentioned what the company might do with the cash, rather than let it just sit there. "We’re not going to do silly things with it," he said during the Q4 earnings call. Even so, last night's announcement has more exciting guesses like a "$90,000 million project to clone Steve Jobs" and investments in Twitter and Samsung. But, alas, Apple went in the sensible direction.
It's the sensible thing to do because shareholders will like it. The company had all this money sitting around not collecting very much interest in cash. "Apple earns less than 1 percent in interest on the cash, which many investors view as wasteful," explains The New York Times' Nick Wingfield. Investors want in on this. In the past, Apple has resisted this type of move arguing it needed the cash to secure supplies for its iPads and such. Though, Apple did issue dividends back in 1995.
In addition to the dividends thing, Apple did something a tiny bit crazy, issuing a stock buy back program. Some had guessed Apple might do that, but generally companies take that route to salvage declining stock prices. Apple, who passed $600 per share last week during iPad mayhem, doesn't really need to do that. But, the company has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program.
Nothing too crazy from Apple this morning. But maybe we'll get something exciting during the official call, which starts in a few minutes.
Update 9:06 a.m.: Nope, we got nothing that we didn't already know from Tim Cook during this morning's call. "We have thought very deeply and very carefully about our cash balance," he said, as he announced the dividends and share repurchase program, which matches what we have above. Since, dividend paybacks are often associated with "mature companies that have settled into slower rates of sales and earnings growth," in the words of Wingfield, Cook got a teeny-tiny bit defensive about this move. "Innovation is the most important objective at Apple," he said, emphasizing that Apple's not eschewing innovation to appease shareholders. "These decisions will not close any doors for us." In anticipation of this move, Apple's stock is up around 9 points in premarket trading this morning.