Apple has been automatically paying its shareholders a dividend about a month and a half after the end of each fiscal quarter ever since it declared its modern dividend plan in the summer of 2012.
The August dividend will be the first to occur since the company issued a 7-for-1 stock split. That split also converted the dividend from $3.29 per share to 47 cents per share. Following its stock split, Apple now has 5.989 billion shares outstanding.
Apple boosted its dividend payments in May, up from a previous $3.05. That was the second increase in two years. At the current stock price of $95.12 at its close today, Apple's dividend yield is 1.98 percent, a figure that has been dropping as the stock's price has appreciated.
Since the start of 2014, Apple shares are up 18.68 percent, compared to Microsoft's 15.16 percent gain or Google's 0.94 percent rise.
AAPL Dividends & Buybacks
Dividends are a minority portion of Apple's shareholder capital return program, the majority of which has been earmarked for buying back outstanding shares, (which increases the scarcity, and therefore value, of Apple's stock by taking shares off the market and retiring them. Removing shares from circulation also enhances the company's closely-watched earnings per share metrics).
Over the past year, Apple has been paying out around $2.8 billion in dividends every quarter, a figure that had increased 15 percent over the $2.5 billion Apple had been paying in 2012, before it first increased its dividend payments last May. This quarter, Apple's dividend payments will amount to $2.9 billion.
Apple has spent $51 billion on stock buybacks since initiating its capital return program, including an opportunistic $14 billion share grab initiated after the stock plunged more than 8 percent in January following the company's holiday Q1 release which detailed its highest ever quarterly revenues and operating profits--results that the tech media depicted as "disappointing."
Apple subsequently issued a third $12 billion ASR and executed an additional $2 billion in open market purchases, then spent an additional $4 billion in open market purchases in the spring quarter, resulting in an $18 billion total buyback for fiscal Q2.
Apple has since continued its quarterly pace of buying back $5 billion in shares off the open market in the June quarter, and noted in SEC filings that it expects to continue, although it is not obligated to do so. Apple has another $39 billion set aside to buyback shares under its current capital return program, which is currently slated to continue through the end of calendar 2015.