Apple share have now declined on the order of 12% from its highs set just couple of weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the much anticipated share buyback and dividend has not helped–and for good reason. It is not the dividend or buyback that creates value.
If, however, Apple’s Board is desirous of changing the downward momentum while bringing in value investors, there is a solution, one which will certainly raise the multiple on its shares.
While I am certainly not privy to what Apple may announce this evening during its earnings release, if I were advising the company-and their Board is now intent on distributing cash-the most logical approach would be to hold on to its current cash hoard of about $100 billion, and distribute 75% of prospective free cash flows, quarterly. A distribution of the current balance would not be expected to aid the share price any more than it helped Microsoft some years back-for good reason-a stock is worth the present value of prospective free cash flows. The current small dividend is not sufficient to bring in a new class of investors.
Maintaining the current cash, with its pristine balance sheet while continuing to hold 25% of prospective free cash flows would permit the firm to pursue even the most aggressive of acquisition, partnership and expansion strategies. Giving shareholders 75% of future free cash flows equates to a dividend of about 4.5%, given estimated growth, and almost certainly propel the stock.