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This is a coming-of-age drama about a rising adolescent grappling with the stark realities of adulthood. Naturally, I'm talking about gaming giant Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI ) , which just made a few announcements worthy of a John Hughes film.
First, there were the smashing profits that have to leave the guys at Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS ) feeling pretty deflated right now. And that's great. But fellow Fool Anders Bylund has that angle pretty well covered already today.
Instead, I'm here to talk about Activision's overcoming of the quarter-life crisis. Highly successful tech companies reach a point where they end up with too much cash on their hands. In Activision's case, that's about $2.7 billion, or close to a quarter of the company's market cap. That's a great "problem" to have, of course, assuming that you deploy the cash well. Many tech companies don't, frankly. If they're not wasting it by chasing growth via marginal projects or splashy acquisitions, they're letting it sit idle in their coffers, earning nominal rates of interest. I'm looking at you, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) .
Mature tech stars such as Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) and more recently Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) , though, have already made the leap into dividend-paying adulthood. And with its surprising announcement of an annual $0.15 dividend, you can now add Activision to that list. That makes for about a 1.4% yield off today's prices.
In another nice touch, Activision went the annual route with its dividend payment, rather than quarterly. Activision's product-launch-centric profits are pretty lumpy, which doesn't align well with a quarterly payout policy. And there's always room to ease into a quarterly payout down the road. Dividends are something you don't want to overcommit on, since a company's shares usually get drubbed any time it backtracks on its payout policy.
Don't mistake this new policy as Activision waving a white flag, though. Far from it. The company is still awash in cash, with gusting tailwinds at its back. In fact, the guys over at Stock Advisor think highly enough of Activision's prospects to rate it one of their Core Stocks. If you're curious to learn more about the team's thesis, you can now try Stock Advisor free for 30 days.