Apple to pay dividend and buy back shares

BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones explains why Apple is spending its cash now

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Apple has said it will use its cash to start paying a dividend to shareholders and to buy back some of its shares.

The technology giant said it would pay a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share from July.

It will buy back up to $10bn (£6.3bn) of its own shares starting in the company's next financial year, which begins on 30 September 2012.

At the end of last year, Apple revealed it had $97.6bn in cash. It expects to use $45bn over the next three years.

It is the first time Apple has declared a dividend since 1995.

"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," Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement.

"You'll see more of all of these in the future.

"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 programme."

Apple shares have surged to about $600 in recent days, making it the world's most valuable company, with a stock market value of more than $500bn. Ten years ago, the shares were trading at about $10.

Booming sales of iPhones and iPads have helped the firm build up its huge cash pile.

"This is consistent with what we, and I think most, expected them to do, which is to address shareholder concerns around the huge cash stockpile while retaining enough of a reserve to keep a wide range of strategic options on the table," said John Jackson from CCS Insight.

"This, plus the buyback, should continue to bolster the soaring share price."

Shares in Apple ended Monday trading up 2.7%.

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