Image source: IBM.

What happened?

IBM (IBM 0.23%) has announced that its board has approved its regular quarterly cash dividend of $1.40 per share, which will be payable on Dec. 10, 2016 to stockholders of record Nov. 10, 2016. The dividend is unchanged from last quarter, and the company typically increases its dividend in May of each year.

IBM also said the board has increased the share repurchase authorization by $3 billion. Combined with the existing $3 billion authorization remaining as of September, the total repurchase authorization will be $6 billion. IBM will repurchase shares on the open market or in private transactions, depending on market conditions.

Does it matter?

The company points out that it has paid out consecutive quarterly dividends every year for a century, an impressive track record that is important to maintain. CEO Ginni Rometty said that returning capital to shareholders remains a high priority, even as it continues to invest in new products and services for its large enterprise customer base.

Indeed, IBM is one of the most generous companies when it comes to returning capital to investors via share buybacks. Meanwhile, the company's dividend payout ratio is a comfortable 43% of net income, suggesting that the income stream to investors is sustainable and reliable. That's important, because IBM is a tech stalwart among income investors.