For years, income investors have argued that the tech giant should loosen up its purse strings and start paying out cash dividends. The company finally caved in and announced a new payout policy back in January. Now the new mantra, that is if you're going by the cover story in this weekend's edition of Barron's, is Mr. Softy isn't yielding enough green for its dividend-starved investors.
Leave it to Wall Street! Give 'em eight cents and they'll hold out for two quarters.
However, the argument for boosting its anemic payout is sound. Microsoft is sitting on $46 billion in cash. But this isn't the type of cyclical company in need of a meaty war chest during its industry's downtime, unlike automakers or airlines. Neither is it investing the capital back into the company in significant chunks, as that cash balance continues to grow with every passing quarter. That only leaves a blockbuster acquisition as a reason to keep billions stashed away in its pockets, but that's highly unlikely now that the eyes of the Federal Trade Commission are glued to it.
If there's any relative consolation, it's that the stock's 0.3% yield has remained constant while money market yields have been swan diving this year. Yet it's been constant because the stock has remained stagnant. Ouch! The stock is trading marginally lower this year, and that's a sad state because so many other tech stocks have started to bounce back.
Would a 2% yield win over the conservative income investor by giving the stock some form of bottom cushion? Not really. Blue chipper Bristol-Myers Squibb
Microsoft's stock is exactly where it was five years ago while the company has been able to grow its business. If it doesn't want to pump up its dividend rate, a more logical and stock-supportive measure should be taken. Let it announce the world's largest share repurchase program. If it has all that lunch money, let it prove its self-worth by eating its own cooking.
Do you think Microsoft should raise its dividend? Is the company not doing enough with its idle cash? All this and more -- in the Microsoft discussion board . Only on Fool.com.