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Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:35

Apple announces massive share buyback plan Featured

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Tech titan Apple has signed off on a further US$30 billion share buyback until the end of 2015 and raised its quarterly dividend by 8% as shaky revenue growth continues to plague the company.

The news came during Apple's quarterly earnings call, where the Cupertino-based company also announced a rare seven-for-one stock split. It comes after several activist shareholders, including the infamous Carl Icahn, called on Apple to share more of its cash with investors.

Icahn tweeted his approval on Wednesday:

The company had already announced it would spend $60 billion on stock buybacks and this announcement expands on that to bring the total number to $90 billion, to be completed by the end of 2014.

The company approved a roughly 8% increase in its quarterly dividend to $3.29 per share, and Apple shares, which have stuck at around the $500 to $550 range (around the same as Google), skyrocketed to US$561.51 in after-hours trade.

In terms of device sales there was good news - Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, much higher than the 38 million that Wall Street had predicted.

This meant Apple experienced a 4.6% rise in revenue to US$45.6 billion, surpassing Wall Street expectations of $43.5 billion.

Cook also used the meeting to say Microsoft was late to the party with its Office for iPad offering, but it was a case of better late than never.

"If it had been done earlier, it would've been better for Microsoft," Cook said during the meeting.

Cook did defend Microsoft somewhat however, explaining that iWork and similar productivity apps had filled the gap left by Office, but Microsoft's software is critical for the iPad and customers are responding well.

"I do see that Office is a very key franchise in the enterprise," Cook said. "I wholeheartedly welcome Microsoft to the App Store."

During the second fiscal quarter ended March 29, iPad shipments totaled 16.35 million units, falling from 19.48 million units in the same quarter the previous year.

"That doesn't mean every quarter ... [there's] going to be a number that everyone's thrilled with," Cook said.

Cook told investors that iPad shipments will overtake PCs in the coming years.

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