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Apple Now America's Largest Dividend-Payer

By Sam Robson - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:43PM

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Apple lifts quarterly dividend by 15%, and plans to return a massive $100 billion to investors by the end of 2015.

LONDON -- On Tuesday, Apple (AAPL 4.08%) management revealed that it was hiking its quarterly dividend by a huge 15% to $3.05 per share.

In its quarterly earnings report, Apple announced that it would be returning $100 billion to shareholders by the end of 2015. It aims to achieve this through the new dividend, as well as by "aggressively expand[ing]" its share buyback scheme to $60 billion, previously $10 billion.

Fiscal earnings in Q2 did drop by 18%, although this marginally beat analysts' consensus expectations. Gross margins came in at 37.5%, however, which was at the low end of the management's forecast range.

Elsewhere in the report, Apple announced estimate-beating revenues, which increased by 11% to $43.6 billion, and net income of $9.5 billion -- or $10.09 per share -- in contrast to $11.6 billion ($12.30 per share) in the same period last year. More of its key products -- iPhones, iPads and Macs -- were sold against its comparative quarter last year, too.

Fears over a China slowdown were also eased, with iPads seeing a 138% growth in the world's third-largest country and Apple revealing plans to expand its presence there by opening 11 new stores over the next two years.

CEO Tim Cook said the company will continue to focus on "innovative products," with a smart watch and television long whispered about by watchers of the company. Successful launches of products like these could reignite Apple's growth, but Tuesday's report revealed nothing specific.

Whether the shares at around $400 represents good value is still up for debate, then. The quarterly dividend hike means that Apple shares now yield 3%, up from 2.7% previously.

However, if Apple appears too volatile for your investing taste, then why not take a look at this exclusive wealth report compiled by The Motley Fool's top analysts, featuring five particularly attractive alternatives.

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