|Apple Pay First Dividend Since 1995 and Buy Back $10 Billion in Shares|
But the company stressed the plan, which will tap into a cash stockpile of
$98 billion will not restrict its ability to invest in research, develop new products, or pursue valuable acquisitions.
"We don't see ceilings to our opportunities," despite the new payouts to shareholders, chief executive Tim Cook told analysts in a conference call.
"Innovation is the most important objective at Apple and we will not lose sight of that. These decisions will not close any doors for us."
Apple said it would pay a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share from its cash balance generated from sales of its hugely successful gadgets like the iPad and iPhone.
The dividend payment would start with the company's 2012 fiscal fourth quarter, which begins on July 1.
The $10 billion share buyback will begin in fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30.
Apple said it expected the repurchase program to be carried out over three years in an effort to neutralize the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.
Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer described the company as generating enough cash quarterly to easily accommodate the dividend - amounting to $10 billion a year - and the stock buyback without deeply impacting Apple's resources.
In the company's 2011 fiscal year, Apple generated $31 billion in surplus cash. In the first quarter of 2012, it added another $24 billion. "That's plenty of cash to run the business," said Oppenheimer.