Apple shareholders ‘unlikely’ to receive a dividend

Ben Camm-Jones
24 February, 2012
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Apple’s shareholders are unlikely to receive a dividend today, one Apple watcher has predicted.

Fortune‘s Philip Elmer-DeWitt reckons that Apple is “likely to hold on to its $100 billion cash hoard” for the moment, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook’s recent admission that the company has “more cash than we need to run the business on a daily basis”.

Elmer-DeWitt outlines a number of different scenarios that could occur at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting that takes place in Cupertino today, including a payout of an annual dividend or a one-off dividend.

However, he believes these are both unlikely outcomes, as are a share repurchase plan or a stock split. The latter is something that the company hasn’t done since 2005, when its shares traded for US$90 – these share are now worth more than US$513.

But Elmer-DeWitt thinks that Cook is being very careful with Apple’s hoard of cash and marketable securities. Cook told attendees of the Goldman Sachs Technology and internet Conference earlier this month that “we spend our money like it’s our last penny”.

“In terms of our approach on cash, I’ve said since becoming CEO, I’m not religious about this. I’m not religious about holding it or not holding it. And we’re in very active discussions at the board level on what we should do. But I think everyone would want us to be deliberate and really think through and that’s what we’re doing,” Cook said.

Cook also went on to ask “for a bit of patience”, which makes Elmer-DeWitt believe that no significant announcement is coming today. He also notes that there has been only one full board meeting since Steve Jobs tendered his resignation and says that “it’s hard to imagine a multi-billion dollar decision like this being made without at least one more meeting of the full board”.

Elmer-DeWitt’s comments go against comments made by his colleague Adam Lashinsky earlier this month predicting that Apple would pay a dividend.

“Apple is no normal company. It does just about everything differently, including how it socks away its money,” Lashinsky wrote on 6 February. “Expect a dividend announcement sooner rather than later.”


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