Apple Smartly Threads the Dividend Needle

03/19/2012 4:42 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

Not only does the timing give the stock good support for the summer slump in tech stocks, but the vague, drawn-out payout maximizes the time that weak, dividend-seeking hands will stay in, writes MoneyShow’s Jim Jubak, also of Jubak’s Picks.

What’s most interesting to me about this morning’s announcement by Apple (AAPL) that it will pay its first dividend since 1995 is the schedule for the payout.

Apple will pay a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share—that’s roughly a 1.75% yield—beginning sometime in the fiscal third quarter that starts on July 1. That yield is in the ballpark of Wall Street expectations for something around 2%.

Apple also said it will launch a share buyback program sometime after the company’s fiscal year ends on September 30. Together, the two measures will cost the company $45 billion over the next three years.

Apple finished calendar 2011 with $98 billion in cash. Analysts estimate that the company will generate $75 billion in cash in 2012.

But “sometime after July 1" is a fairly long way off and rather vague. Together, the extended deadline and the vagueness guarantee that there won’t be any quick rush to the exits from investors who bought shares in expectations of the dividend, and who might sell as soon as they have it in their hands.

Instead, all but the most impatient of those Apple shareholders will stay on board until the dividend record and ex-dividend dates in July. They’re likely to see Apple’s share price buoyed during that period by buying from institutional investors that have been precluded from owning Apple shares since they didn’t pay a dividend.

This gives Apple very solid buying support during the summer slump that is—in most years—the toughest part of the calendar for technology stocks. That support is especially strong because there are a lot of potential Apple buyers on the sidelines who are waiting for any dip in the stock in order to get in.

I don’t know if that support is strong enough to push Apple shares higher if we get a typical technology sell-off after May. But it should be enough to keep the stock from seeing much of a decline during the summer months.

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. The mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund, may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this post. The fund did own shares of Polypore International as of the end of September. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of September see the fund’s portfolio here.

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