Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) wants to give shareholders more money.
The software giant's board of directors approved a 10% increase to its quarterly dividend to $0.56 per share. That equates to an annualized yield of 1.1%, based on Microsoft's current stock price near $207.
Microsoft is a financial powerhouse. With more than $136 billion in cash and investments and $60 billion in annual operating cash flow, the software giant can easily afford to reward its investors with rapidly growing dividends and bountiful share repurchases, even as it invests heavily in cutting-edge new technologies.
That's important because it allows shareholders to generate a rising and reliable income stream, without the need to sell stock. And it allows Microsoft to stay at the vanguard of technological change.
Microsoft is a leader in areas such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Its Azure cloud infrastructure platform is growing at a torrid rate, to the tune of 47% year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter. Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 software is also enjoying robust growth, with revenue rising 19% in Q4. Its artificial intelligence expertise, meanwhile, helps to strengthen its popular cloud platforms and enable a host of new applications.
With its cloud businesses fueling its expansion, Microsoft should have little trouble boosting its sales and profits in the coming years. The dividend stalwart is projected to grow its earnings by 15% annually over the next five years, which should allow it to continue to deliver double-digital annual payout increases to its investors.