Tuesday is the anniversary of Apple’s announcement re-instating a dividend after a 17-year hiatus. And that anniversary has sent Wall Street into a dividend-predicting frenzy.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg project that Apple
)will raise its quarterly dividend 56% to $4.14 a share. That would give the stock a 3.7% yield. That would be higher than the yield of 86% of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 that pay dividends.
The logic among analysts seems to be no more complicated than this: Apple will raise its dividend because it can. The projected annual payout of $15.7 billion could be paid from existing cash flow, the argument goes, and Apple would not have to repatriate cash from overseas and trigger higher tax payments.
Other analysts have pointed out that Apple could easily sell debt to raise extra cash. That would let the company increase the dividend and buyback shares. Credit Suisse, for example, figures the company could raise its dividend to 4% in 2013 using its onshore cash, and then borrow to buyback shares. For every $10 billion raised at 2.5%, Credit Suisse calculates, Apple could buy back enough shares to increase earnings per share by 2%.
There’s no doubt some of Apple biggest shareholders would like the company to increase
dividends. A quarterly $3-a-share dividend would mean a total annual payday of $1.6 billion for Apple’s top three institutional investors, BlackRock, Vanguard Group, and Fidelity, Bloomberg calculates.
On this dividend speculation Apple has climbed to $455 as of 3 p.m. New York time Monday, from $420 on March 4 (Apple is a member of my Jubak’s Picks
At the time of this writing, Jim Jubak didn't own shares of any companies mentioned in this post in personal portfolios. When in 2010 he started the mutual fund he manages, Jubak Global Equity Fund (JUBAX), he liquidated all his individual stock holdings and put the money into the fund. The fund may or may not own positions in any stock mentioned. The fund did own shares of Apple as of the end of September. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of the most recent quarter, see the fund's portfolio here.