Surprise, surprise -- Apple just let the cat out of its own bag. In right around a half-hour, the company will officially unwrap plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program commencing later this year. 'Course, analysts have been clamoring for such an announcement for quite some time, and with a stock price near $600 and some $100 billion in the bank, the outfit can clearly afford it. More specifically, Apple plans to "initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share sometime in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1, 2012." Granted, that's all subject to the Board of Directors giving the ole a-okay, but we highly doubt the company would issue such knowledge without a practical guarantee that everyone is on board. Additionally, the Company's Board of Directors has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program commencing in the Apple's fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012; we're told that said program will be executed over three years, with the main goal being to "neutralize the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs."

As for CEO Tim Cook's thoughts on the matter?

"We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You'll see more of all of these in the future. Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program."

Naturally, this all shows that Apple is supremely confident in its future, but it doesn't shed any light into potential acquisitions from a technology standpoint. Strangely enough, it was just a few days ago that Mr. Cook ended his new iPad keynote with a promise that 2012 would be chock full of unbelievable things from his company, but it sounds like the only folks celebrating this particular announcement are those with a hand in the stockpile. We don't expect to glean much more than what's given in the presser just past the break, but we'll be liveblogging the actual conference call starting at 9AM ET.
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Apple Announces Plans to Initiate Dividend and Share Repurchase Program

Expects to Spend $45 Billion Over Three Years


CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apple® today announced plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program commencing later this year.

"Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program."

Subject to declaration by the Board of Directors, the Company plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share sometime in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1, 2012.

Additionally, the Company's Board of Directors has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program commencing in the Company's fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012. The repurchase program is expected to be executed over three years, with the primary objective of neutralizing the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.

"We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You'll see more of all of these in the future," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO. "Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program."

"Combining dividends, share repurchases, and cash used to net-share-settle vesting RSUs, we anticipate utilizing approximately $45 billion of domestic cash in the first three years of our programs," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO. "We are extremely confident in our future and see tremendous opportunities ahead."

Apple will provide live streaming of a conference call to discuss its plans beginning at 6:00 a.m. PDT on Monday, March 19, 2012 at www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/call31912. The Company will not be providing an update on the current quarter nor will any topics be discussed other than cash. This webcast will also be available for replay for approximately two weeks thereafter.

This press release contains forward-looking statements including without limitation those regarding future business outlook and plans for dividends and share repurchases. These statements involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ. Risks and uncertainties include without limitation the effect of competitive and economic factors, and the Company's reaction to those factors, on consumer and business buying decisions with respect to the Company's products; continued competitive pressures in the marketplace; the ability of the Company to deliver to the marketplace and stimulate customer demand for new programs, products, and technological innovations on a timely basis; the effect that product introductions and transitions, changes in product pricing or mix, and/or increases in component costs could have on the Company's gross margin; the inventory risk associated with the Company's need to order or commit to order product components in advance of customer orders; the continued availability on acceptable terms, or at all, of certain components and services essential to the Company's business currently obtained by the Company from sole or limited sources; the effect that the Company's dependency on manufacturing and logistics services provided by third parties may have on the quality, quantity or cost of products manufactured or services rendered; risks associated with the Company's international operations; the Company's reliance on third-party intellectual property and digital content; the potential impact of a finding that the Company has infringed on the intellectual property rights of others; the Company's dependency on the performance of distributors, carriers and other resellers of the Company's products; the effect that product and service quality problems could have on the Company's sales and operating profits; the continued service and availability of key executives and employees; war, terrorism, public health issues, natural disasters, and other circumstances that could disrupt supply, delivery, or demand of products; and unfavorable results of other legal proceedings. More information on potential factors that could affect the Company's financial results is included from time to time in the "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" sections of the Company's public reports filed with the SEC, including the Company's Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 24, 2011 and its Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2011. The Company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements or information, which speak as of their respective dates.

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Apple announces dividend and share repurchase program for 2012, expects to spend $45 billion over three years