Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) raised its dividend payout in January, a 7% boost that represented the chip giant's first dividend increase since 2012. Then Intel followed up on that breakthrough by lowering its sales and earnings guidance mid-quarter.
Suddenly the dividend increase didn't look so solid. Was the dramatic guidance cut a precursor of even worse things to come, like an immediate reduction of future dividend payouts? If the company is coming up dry in the profits department, it could definitely make sense to save money in other areas.
Well, Intel's next dividend announcement is here, and it's good news for nervous income investors. Share prices jumped as much as 2.7% higher on the dividend announcement last week, making it one of the Dow Jones Industrial Average's (DJINDICES:^DJI) biggest gainers on an already positive market day.
For shareholders of record as of May 7, Intel will pay out $0.24 per share on June 1. So the payout held steady at the recently boosted level, as you'd normally expect it to do until the first payout of 2016.
The proof will be in the pudding, of course, but Intel seems to be sticking to the traditional script where dividend payers simply increase their payouts once a year. It'll take about 24 more years to become a true Dividend Aristocrat from this starting point, but you have to begin somewhere.
The steady dividend check is not only good news for income investors, but also a hopeful sign for Intel shareholders who don't really care about the quarterly payouts.
If the first-quarter troubles really were as devastating as Intel's recent stock chart might indicate, then the company would have been well within its rights to reduce the dividend. Why send $4.9 billion of cash to shareholders in 2015 if that money could be used to shore up whatever's going wrong with Intel's business operations?
That disastrous turn of events didn't happen here. Instead, we Intel shareholders look forward to more details on slow PC sales and tough dollar conversion trends when the company reports final first-quarter results in April.
Meanwhile, Intel rolls along largely as before, even if investors have slashed about $23 billion off Intel's market value so far in 2015. Fellow Fool Tim Brugger says, and I would agree, that these steep discounts are based on flimsy speculation.
Right now actually looks like a great time to buy Intel stock -- and the unchanged dividend payout adds support to that theory.