Diwali Comes Early to Apple Investors; Apple’s $45 Billion Bonanza to Shareholders

Consumer electronics darling Apple is dipping into its $97.6 billion cash hoard to handsomely reward shareholders.

The company today said it plans to spend $45 billion on dividends and share buyback over the next three years.

Apple intends to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share in its fiscal fourth quarter, which begins on July 1, 2012.

Apple last paid out a dividend in 1995.

The enormous popularity of its iPhone, iPad, iPod touch devices and the Mac computer has yielded rich profits for the company in recent years.

In its last fiscal quarter alone, Apple’s cash chest grew by $16 billion.

Share Buyback

Apple’s board has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program starting in fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012.

The repurchase program is to be executed over three years.

Apple said the primary goal of the program is to neutralize the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.

“We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.”

Apple’s remarkable success comes when the global economy is still struggling and rivals like Samsung, Sony, Blackberry and others are compelled to offer discounts to move their tablets.

Apple’s third generation iPad tablet, which debuted in stores Friday, has already received enthusiastic reviews.

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