Apple Hikes Its Dividend and Boosts Its Buyback Program

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) reported its fiscal second-quarter results after market close on Tuesday. The company’s better-than-expected revenue and earnings per share for the period took the spotlight. Record quarterly services revenue and strong growth in the company’s iPad and wearables segments helped moderate a year-over-year decline caused by lower iPhone sales.

But some interesting news beyond the period’s financial results was Apple’s latest annual increase to its capital-return program. The tech giant approved yet another dividend increase and authorized more money for share repurchases.

Here’s a look at the updated capital-return program.

Image source: Apple.

More cash for shareholders

Marking its seventh annual dividend increase since Apple initiated its dividend in 2012, the tech giant said it’s boosting its annual dividend by 5%. Though the increase is small, it comes on top of a strong 16% dividend increase last year.

The new quarterly dividend amounts to $0.77 and is payable on May 16 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 13. At $3.08 annually, this new dividend gives Apple stock a dividend yield of 1.5% based on the stock’s after-hours price following the tech giant’s fiscal second-quarter earnings release.

Apple’s board also announced a significant increase to its share-repurchase program. “Given our confidence in Apple’s future and the value we see in our stock, our Board has authorized an additional $75 billion for share repurchases,” said Apple CFO Luca Maestri. Though this amount is lower than the $100 billion authorized last year, it’s still notable as it represents an incremental authorization — not a replacement.

Apple wants to become net cash neutral

Apple CFO Luca Maestri reiterated during the company’s second-quarter earnings call that it’s still the company’s plan to reach a net cash neutral position over time. This means Apple wants to eventually have an equal amount of debt and cash.

With $113 billion in net cash at the end of its fiscal second quarter, it’s going to take some time for this figure to come down. But the company is making progress toward this goal, as Apple returned over $27 billion to shareholders through repurchases and dividends during its fiscal second quarter — a period in which operating cash flow was $11.2 billion. Apple’s net cash is notably down from $130 billion at the end of its first quarter of fiscal 2019.

How and when Apple will get to a net cash neutral position over time is unclear. But more repurchases over the next 12 months as Apple pays out a higher dividend will likely get the tech giant closer to its target.

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Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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