Sitting on a $98 billion (74.4 billion euros) cash pile, Apple announced it would finally share some of its wealth with shareholders by paying its first dividend since 1995 and buying back shares worth $10 billion.
US gadget maker Apple is to pay out $45 billion (34.2 billion euros) to shareholders over a period of three years, the California-based company announced on Monday.
The world's most valuable technology company said it would start paying a "regular quarterly dividend" of $2.65 per share in July.
In addition, Apple would buy back stocks worth up to $10 billio to "offset the impact of employee stock options and equity grants."
Such an operation is a popular alternative to dividends, since they reduce the number of shares in the market, meaning that the remaining investors have a larger share of the company.
"These decisions will not close any doors to us," said Apple chief executive Tim Cook, noting that the maker of iPhone, iPad and iPod was able to maintain a "war chest" for strategic opportunities and "plenty of cash" to run its operations.
However, Cook said that "making great products" remained the company's "most important objective."
Apple by comparison
Apple's $10 billion annual payout program is one of the largest in the United States corporate world this year.
However, with a dividend yield of around 1.8 percent per share it falls short of the 2.4 percent average for companies listed in the Standard & Poors 500 index.
"The best thing about it is that we can go back to focusing on what Apple does best," Daniel Ernst, analyst with Hudson Square Research, told the Reuters news agency.
Investor's expectation that Apple would declare a dividend had driven the company's market capitalization to about $546 billion at the end of last week, with a single share worth more than $600 for the first time in company history.
uhe/ng (Reuters, dpa, AFP)