Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has just doled out its latest round of quarterly dividends. The company paid $2.6 billion to shareholders on Thursday, although as Apple Insider‘s Daniel Eran Dilger has noted, the amount was reduced thanks the billions of dollars’ worth of shares Apple has bought back over the last couple of quarters.
In the middle of last month, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had approximately 892 million shares outstanding. However, CEO Tim Cook has said that they bought back about $14 billion worth of additional shares since releasing their last earnings report late last month. The company was taking advantage of a slump in its stock price after investors were disappointed with its performance. Shares fall from about $550 to a little under $500 for about a week.
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With those purchases, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s outstanding shares now number about 860 million because at that lower share price, the company could have bought back around 28 million shares. Since Apple bought back those shares, its price has gone back up to $544.
After Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) buys back shares, of course it doesn’t pay dividends on those shares. This means that the company slashed about $85.4 million off its dividend payments, just by buying back $14 billion in shares recently. For each share, shareholders of record by the ex-dividend date, which was last week, received $3.05 in dividends on Thursday.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is raking in the cash much more quickly than it can spend it, and the company has said that it would continue aggressively buying back its stock. Activist investor Carl Icahn had been pushing for even more share buybacks—as many as $150 billion at one point—although he dropped his push after the influential shareholder advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended that investors vote against the non-binding proposal he put on Apple’s proxy ballot.