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By How Much Is Apple, Inc. About to Increase Its Dividend?

By Daniel Sparks - Apr 7, 2016 at 4:42PM

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With revenue growth slowing, could the company's dividend growth slow, too?

A dividend increase for Apple (AAPL 4.08%) is coming -- and it's just a few weeks away. Not only has management committed to increasing its dividend annually, but Apple also specifically promised during the company's first fiscal quarter earnings call that it would update its capital return program alongside its second-quarter earnings report, which is scheduled for Monday, April 25. A dividend increase, therefore, is all but certain. The question is: What will Apple's new dividend amount to?

A 10% dividend hike?
The tech giant's recent dividend increases suggest the tech giant is likely to boost its dividend by about 10% this year. Since Apple reinitiated a dividend in 2012, the company's dividend has increased by an average of 11% each year. Further, the company's recent quarterly dividend increase, which was announced just over a year ago, was 10.6%. It makes sense, therefore, that the company would continue to increase its dividend at a similar rate.

This year's increase will be particularly interesting because it comes at a time when the company guided for a rare year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue. When Apple reported first-quarter results, it guided for Q2 revenue in the range of $50 to $53 billion -- well below the company's $58 billion in revenue in the year-ago quarter. Some investors might be concerned that Apple will approach its dividend increase more conservatively amid the company's contracting revenue.

Still, despite the company's challenges in growing its top line this year, a 10%-plus dividend increase is still likely; the company's current dividend is conservative enough that even amid a pullback in Apple's top line, management will likely stick with a consistent increase in order to give its income-seeking shareholders some predictability.

To show just how easy it is for the company to increase its dividend, here's some context. Apple pays out just 22% of its annual earnings in dividends, leaving significant room for further dividend increases even if earnings suffer. Similarly, of the company's $62.8 billion in free cash flow during the trailing 12 months, Apple paid out just $11.7 billion in dividends.

A 10% dividend increase this year, therefore, is likely even if the company struggles to grow revenue.

This increase would amount to a quarterly dividend of $0.57, or $2.28 annually. This would be up from $0.52 every quarter, or $2.08 annually.

With Apple's stock price of about $108 at the time of this writing, this higher dividend would give the company a dividend yield of about 2.1% -- up from a dividend yield of approximately 1.9% with today's dividend.

Beyond Apple's dividend
Of course, there's more to Apple's capital return program than its dividend. The company also uses its excess capital to repurchase its own shares. Indeed, the company's share repurchase portion of its return program is far more significant.

When Apple updated its capital return program last April, the company's board authorized a 50% boost to its overall capital return program, to $200 billion. The amount authorized for share repurchases specifically increased from $90 billion to $140 billion.

Given the conservative price of Apple shares going into the company's second-quarter earnings report, it's likely share repurchases will continue to see a higher cash allocation than dividends when the company announces an update to its capital return program on April 25.

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