Apple won cheers from investors on Monday when it announced that it would use part of its $98 billion U.S. cash hoard — a record for a public company — to dole out dividends to its shareholders for the first time. The company will spend $35 billion sending its investors $2.65 a share quarterly over the next three years, and it will spend another $10 billion buying back 2 percent of the company's stock, which also helps investors by making each share they own more valuable. But with iPad and iPhone competitors nipping at Apple's heels, is this the smartest use of Apple's stockpiled cash?
This is a waste of money: Apple's "$10 billion annual dividend, to begin this summer, is dumb," says William Baldwin at Forbes. Shareholders are only going to get "clobbered by taxes" — the 15 percent rate on dividends is set to triple next year. That's why "crafty bosses like Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett" use share buybacks exclusively to share the wealth. The only reason to give in and send out dividends is because "the mob wants it.
"Steve Jobs wouldn't have paid a dividend"
It's about time Apple threw investors a bone: You can't blame Apple shareholders for feeling "they have a right to some of Apple's $100 billion," says Todd Wasserman at Mashable. Investment strategists are declaring, in unison, that Apple has "way more than it needs" to invest in improving iPads and iPhones and other aspects of the business. Apple still has $50 billion lying around, and that's more than enough to make any acquisitions it might need to gain an edge on its competitors.
"Why Apple is giving cash back to shareholders"
This paltry dividend isn't enough: "The extraordinary thing is how Apple got away for so long without paying a dividend," says Nils Pratley at Britain's Guardian. And $2.65 a share sounds nice — until you remember that Apple shares are priced around $600 a share. That makes the pay-off "pretty miserable." This is better than no dividend at all, but with money gushing in from iPad sales, Apple will still be hoarding cash faster than it spends it.
"Apple's $10 billion dividend payout may sound impressive..."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- Bob Odenkirk's 6 favorite books
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
Subscribe to the Week