Dividend seen creating 'scarcity issue' for under-owned Apple stock

Posted:
in AAPL Investors edited January 2014


Availability of Apple shares could become an issue, boosting the company's price-to-earnings multiple later this year, if the company does decide to pay out a dividend to investors.



Analyst Mark Moskowitz with J.P. Morgan said in a note to investors on Friday that he expects that Apple will indeed pay a dividend in the near future. Given the company's current $100 billion in cash, he even thinks this could be a generous dividend of between 3 and 4 percent.



But he believes the creation of a dividend could create a "scarcity issue" for AAPL shares, as the iPhone maker's stock is currently under-owned by institutions. Even though Apple is the largest stock in the Russell 1000, 40 percent of mutual funds indexed to the Russell 1000 do not have Apple as a top 10 holding.



In addition, Moskowitz noted that 77 percent of Apple's shares are held institutionally. That's lower than the average among companies in the S&P 500, and it's also lower than the average technology sector holding.



"In other words, Apple is substantially under-owned by major investment funds, particularly those focused on income, i.e., dividend," he wrote. "If and when Apple were to announce a dividend, we expect the scarcity issue to result as investment funds move to build meaningful position."



A scarcity of AAPL shares could push the company's valuation multiples in the range of 13 to 15 times forward price-to-earnings ratio. That would address what he said have been the company's recently depressed valuation multiple of about 10 to 12 times.



A higher price-to-earnings multiple with Apple's continued earnings growth could lead to a "major appreciation trajectory" for the value of Apple stock, Moskowitz believes.





The growth trajectory of Apple's cash hoard, via Asymco.







The comments come less than a day after investors pressed Apple at its annual shareholder meeting on issuing a dividend. Calls for a cash dividend have increased since Apple's cash hoard has swelled to $100 billion.



Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook told investors that the company continues to think "very deeply" about what to do with its cash. The company has continued to make strategic investments to bolster its supply chain and also enhance its current product offerings, as it did with the $50 million purchase of App Store search engine Chomp, revealed on Thursday.



"My message there is that the board and the management are thinking about this very deeply... and we will do what we think is in the best interest of shareholders," Cook said.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • elmsleyelmsley Posts: 120member
    So Apple has so much money it can't make more money of out it so it will give it back to the shareholders. Looks like it's time to sell.
  • cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    It's been a decade since Apple needed cash in the bank to finance operations. Money coming in is sufficient.



    What Apple should do is a one-time special dividend using 50 billion. That will amount to about $5 per share, and if they do it soon, the tax hit on shareholders will be small. That will leave them 50B in the bank which grows by around 10 per quarter, and in another year they can do it again if the tax environment remains reasonable.
  • snooofsnooof Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elmsley View Post


    So Apple has so much money it can't make more money of out it so it will give it back to the shareholders. Looks like it's time to sell.



    That makes no sense. Apple will make close to $50 EPS or over $50 billion in profit this year. They are also growing earnings over 100% year over year. Apple has FAR more money than they need and the cash is generated rapidly. The point of a publicly traded business is to return value to its owners, the shareholders. This is a good thing. It points to apples strength not weakness.
  • herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,176member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cameronj View Post


    It's been a decade since Apple needed cash in the bank to finance operations. Money coming in is sufficient.



    What Apple should do is a one-time special dividend using 50 billion. That will amount to about $5 per share, and if they do it soon, the tax hit on shareholders will be small. That will leave them 50B in the bank which grows by around 10 per quarter, and in another year they can do it again if the tax environment remains reasonable.



    That would be a huge mistake has it doesnt address at all the problem of allowing more funds to buy Apple. Not to mention that most of the cash is not available since its off shore.



    And 50 billions means 50$ per share, not 5$.
  • Apple have explicitly said they will not be issuing a dividend at this time, yet some analysts persist with talk of dividends. Do they think that is all Apple can do with the money? It just goes to show what a limited imagination so-called analyst, Mark Moskowitz, has.
  • herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,176member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elmsley View Post


    So Apple has so much money it can't make more money of out it so it will give it back to the shareholders. Looks like it's time to sell.



    ... yes please sell.
  • parksgmparksgm Posts: 60member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by elmsley View Post


    So Apple has so much money it can't make more money of out it so it will give it back to the shareholders. Looks like it's time to sell.



    Does that really make sense? I would guess that Apple doesn't have a lack of investment opportunity, so it seems that it has been a strategic decision thus far to accumulate so much cash. That doesn't mean that there aren't viable investment opportunities for Apple, just that building a war chest without the risk of loss may have been more important.



    If you really felt that way, then the time to sell would have been when Apple first began accumulating such a massive cash hoard, as the share price has certainly continued to climb the entire time they've been accumulating it. What makes you believe that growth will stop at this point?



    Also, how much of Apple's cash is a result of direct profit, and how much a result of investment from profit? It could be that a significant percentage of the $100 billion is actually the result investment profit.
  • parksgmparksgm Posts: 60member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by herbapou View Post


    That would be a huge mistake has it doesnt address at all the problem of allowing more funds to buy Apple. Not to mention that most of the cash is not available since its off shore.



    And 50 billions means 50$ per share, not 5$.



    The cash IS available, just not without a significant tax hit.
  • herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,176member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EmperorsNewClothes View Post


    Apple have explicitly said they will not be issuing a dividend at this time, yet some analysts persist with talk of dividends. Do they think that is all Apple can do with the money? It just goes to show what a limited imagination so-called analyst, Mark Moskowitz, has.



    They hint they may use preferred shares for a dividend. And "at this time" meant the shareholder meeting, not forever...



    I personnally would prefer a regular dividend on the common shares.
  • gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cameronj View Post


    It's been a decade since Apple needed cash in the bank to finance operations. Money coming in is sufficient.



    What Apple should do is a one-time special dividend using 50 billion. That will amount to about $5 per share, and if they do it soon, the tax hit on shareholders will be small. That will leave them 50B in the bank which grows by around 10 per quarter, and in another year they can do it again if the tax environment remains reasonable.



    Thank you for not running Apple's finances. I'll take massive increases in share prices over paltry dividends that then impede the company's growth by reducing the war chest.



    And dividends get taxed at income levels rather than capital gains rates.
  • gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by herbapou View Post


    They hint they may use preferred shares for a dividend. And "at this time" meant the shareholder meeting, not forever...



    I personnally would prefer a regular dividend on the common shares.



    Well, 'duh' since most of us don't own preferred shares.
  • herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,176member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by parksgm View Post


    The cash IS available, just not without a significant tax hit.



    which basictly means they wont used it for a dividend. They will conttinu to use this cash for operations.



    I dont know if it was mention on the Macbook trend, but Apple used its cash to get access to large volume of the ivy bridge CPU'S before everyone else. The new MB are about to release while the CPU's wont be available for other companies before june.



    Now thats a good use of the cash. Same goes for having pre-paid Sharp for the ipad 3 screens.
  • herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,176member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GQB View Post


    Well, 'duh' since most of us don't own preferred shares.



    I dont think there are preferred shares available yet. They will need to set them up if they go that way. I am not sure how income funds buying preferred shares will impact the common shares. Preferred shares prices dont move a lot, which is good for the yield since its stays the same, but I dont see how this could help rise the price of common shares.
  • shogunshogun Posts: 360member
    To announce they'll give a dividend they'll need to take into account the Apple news cycle. To have announced yesterday would have cast shadows over the pending iPad announcement.



    I predict they'll announce in May/June.



    It'll be smallish, I believe. 1-2%



    Moving the needle in the future will require huge investment. I think they should build up to 250 Billion before settling down and giving a larger percentage.
  • jr_bjr_b Posts: 60member
    It's amazing how many people are trying to get Apple's cash. The stockholders want dividends and their competitors are suing.
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cameronj View Post


    It's been a decade since Apple needed cash in the bank to finance operations. Money coming in is sufficient.



    What Apple should do is a one-time special dividend using 50 billion. That will amount to about $5 per share, and if they do it soon, the tax hit on shareholders will be small. That will leave them 50B in the bank which grows by around 10 per quarter, and in another year they can do it again if the tax environment remains reasonable.



    First, $50 B would be $50 per share.



    Second, that would result in an immediate drop of around $50 per share in value (look up my post in the other thread where I provided evidence that this would happen based on other companies and mutual funds which have offered large dividends).



    Third, there would be a large corporate income tax hit in bringing the money back to the U.S. That would probably cause the stock to drop by MORE than the value of the dividend.



    Fourth, there would be a large tax hit to the dividend recipient since dividends are taxable income. The result is that I would receive less money than the drop in the value of the stock.



    Fifth, the argument that a dividend would have a positive effect on the share price is nothing more than unfounded speculation. Compare Microsoft to Apple for the past 10 years. Microsoft offers a dividend, Apple does not. Or Dell. Or almost any other company. If an institutional investor is not happy with the returns that AAPL has generated over the past decade, a dividend won't change their mind.



    Overall, it's a crazy idea. If they really want to use the money to shore up stock prices, a stock buyback makes infinitely more sense.
  • irelandireland Posts: 16,073member
    Apple says no dividend at this time; analyst says dividend coming. I very suspicious of this guy.
  • elmsleyelmsley Posts: 120member
    AAPL is approaching $500b Market Cap, and has $100b in cash. Sooner or later it's going to become a cash drag, although maybe not immediately right now. Look at Buffett, he's asking you to help him find things to buy because he's running out of ideas. Anyhow, how can we all be trusting that this isn't another bubble all directed into a single stock? A lot of people buy this thing because they believe it's their saving grace without knowing the fundamentals.



    GOOG is big too, yet all those new ideas are still not generating them enough to deem them truly useful compared to good ol' bread and butter Search.
  • irelandireland Posts: 16,073member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    First, $50 B would be $50 per share.



    Second, that would result in an immediate drop of around $50 per share in value (look up my post in the other thread where I provided evidence that this would happen based on other companies and mutual funds which have offered large dividends).



    Third, there would be a large corporate income tax hit in bringing the money back to the U.S. That would probably cause the stock to drop by MORE than the value of the dividend.



    Fourth, there would be a large tax hit to the dividend recipient since dividends are taxable income. The result is that I would receive less money than the drop in the value of the stock.



    Fifth, the argument that a dividend would have a positive effect on the share price is nothing more than unfounded speculation. Compare Microsoft to Apple for the past 10 years. Microsoft offers a dividend, Apple does not. Or Dell. Or almost any other company. If an institutional investor is not happy with the returns that AAPL has generated over the past decade, a dividend won't change their mind.



    Overall, it's a crazy idea. If they really want to use the money to shore up stock prices, a stock buyback makes infinitely more sense.



    You win this thread.



    And please, tell me more about a stock buyback.
  • herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,176member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shogun View Post


    Moving the needle in the future will require huge investment. I think they should build up to 250 Billion before settling down and giving a larger percentage.



    If you allow them to do that it may backfire in you're face as the temptation to go private will rise.
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