Apple to splash cash on dividends and buybacks

Apple will delve into its $US100 billion-strong cash reserves to pay dividends for the first time in 17 years, the company has announced.

The share price of Apple (AAPL:US) reached $US600 overnight after news of the dividend payment and the instigation of a share buyback program.

It gives further cheer to investors, who have seen a 81% return in the past 12 months.

Apple has sold three million new iPads since the release of the third-generation model on Friday, making it the strongest iPad launch yet.

The new iPad has been available since Friday in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands, as well as Australia. It will available in other countries on March 23.

The company plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of $US2.65 per share in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1, 2012.

Additionally, the company’s board of directors has authorised a $10 billion share repurchase program, to start in the quarter beginning September 30, 2012.

The repurchase program is expected to be executed over three years, with the primary objective of neutralising the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs, the company said in a statement.

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne started the business by designing and making a personal computer in 1976. Wozniak hand-built the first machines.

Wayne sold out of all claims on the business for about $US2300 in 1977. Had he kept his stock it would be worth more than $US30 billion today.

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