Apple More Than Doubles Capital Return Program to $100 Billion
The company announced a 15% increase in dividend payments, but Apple is making a significant increase in its stock buyback initiative, taking advantage of the company's depressed stock price to reduce the amount of stock available on the market.
The Company expects to utilize a total of $100 billion of cash under the expanded program by the end of calendar 2015. This represents a $55 billion increase to the program announced last year and translates to an average rate of $30 billion per year from the time of the first dividend payment in August 2012 through December 2015.As part of the newly-expanded capital return program, Apple does plan to take on debt and will announced its plans on that aspect of the program at a later date.
As part of this program, the Board has increased its share repurchase authorization to $60 billion from the $10 billion level announced last year. This is the largest single share repurchase authorization in history and is expected to be executed by the end of calendar 2015. Apple also expects to utilize about $1 billion annually to net-share-settle vesting restricted stock units.
“We are very fortunate to be in a position to more than double the size of the capital return program we announced last year,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We believe so strongly that repurchasing our shares represents an attractive use of our capital that we have dedicated the vast majority of the increase in our capital return program to share repurchases.”Apple notes that it will continue to evaluate its capital return strategy on an annual basis and will look to optimize the use of excess cash through its mix dividends, stock buybacks, and settling of restricted stock unit grants to employees.
Following Apple's announcement, Moody's gave Apple an Aa1 credit rating with a stable outlook, indicating that the company's obligations should be considered of high quality and hold low credit risk.