Apple told investors Monday that the iconic device maker intends to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program beginning later this year. During the company's business quarter that begins July 1, Apple expects to begin paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share.
CFO Peter Oppenheimer said Apple had about $98 billion of cash on hand at the end of December, of which about $64 billion was outside the United States. He said he expected Apple's new dividend payments to exceed $10 billion during the first year and that the company will use more than $45 billion to issue dividends and buy back stock during the first three years of the new programs.
"We are extremely confident in our future and see tremendous opportunities ahead," Oppenheimer told investors during a Monday morning conference call.
Meanwhile, Apple intends to continue making strategic investments in the company's infrastructure , supply chain and R&D programs.
"Innovation is the most important objective at Apple, and we will not lose sight of that," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "These decisions will not close any doors for us."
Confident About the Future
The dividend payout will be the first by Apple since 1995. Cook told investors Monday that he is extremely confident in Apple's future.
"The pipeline is full of stuff, and I think our customers are going to be incredibly pleased with what they see coming out," Cook said.
Although the company sold 37 million iPhones in its latest quarter, Cook noted that Apple's unit sales only represented 9 percent of global handset shipments during the period. Given market expectations that mobile phone shipments overall will grow from 1.6 billion in 2011 to more than 2 billion by 2015, Cook sees plenty of growth opportunities for the iPhone ahead.
"It's our belief that eventually all handsets will be smartphones, so the potential for iPhone is enormous," Cook explained.
Apple sold 55 million iPads between the device's spring 2010 launch and the end of the company's most recent quarter. Cook said Apple shipped a record number of the company's new iPad models during their first weekend of availability.
"We believe that the tablet market will eventually surpass the PC market in size," Cook said. "It's just a question of when." (continued...)