Apple takes steps to lift sagging stock price

AP News
Posted: Apr 23, 2014 8:33 PM

Apple upstaged Wednesday's release of its fiscal second-quarter earnings by announcing plans to send more cash to its shareholders and split its stock for the first time in nine years. This is what Apple is doing:

— The Cupertino, Calif., company will spend an additional $30 billion buying back its slumping stock through the end of next year. The commitment increases Apple's stock buyback program to $90 billion. Apple Inc. has invested about $46 billion in its stock since the program began in 2012.

— Apple's quarterly dividend is being increased 8 percent to $3.29 per share from $3.05 per share. Making the payments will cost Apple more than $11 billion annually. The dividend has now risen by 24 percent since Apple began making the payments nearly two years ago in an about-face from the co-founder Steve Jobs' long-standing resistance to parting with the company's cash. Jobs died in October 2011 after a long battle with cancer.

— A seven-for-one stock split will be executed in early June. The maneuver will result in a dramatic decline in the trading price of Apple's stock to account for an increase in Apple's outstanding shares. Apple is counting on the split to fuel demand for the stock by making it more affordable for more people to buy. Had the split occurred at Wednesday's closing price of $524.75, the stock would probably begin trading at around $75. The stock has been hovering about 25 percent below its peak price reached in September 2012 amid concerns about the company's slowing sales growth and pace of innovation.

— Apple fared better than analysts anticipated during the opening three months of the year, largely because a 17 percent increase in the number of iPhones sold offset a drop in iPad shipments. The company's earnings rose 7 percent to $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per share. That topped the average estimate of $10.19 per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet. Revenue climbed 5 percent to $45.6 billion — about $2 billion above analyst projections.