Apple Dividend History: Yup, the Tech Giant Is Officially a Dividend Stock

By Markets Fool.com

Some might wonder: "Does Apple really pay dividends?"

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Yes, Apple pays a quarterly dividend. Despite the fact Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs famously opposed dividends, Apple has actually turned into a very good dividend stock, paying $2.28 per share each year, increasing its dividend annually, and currently boasting about a 2.1% dividend yield.

Here's a look at Apple's dividend and its history.

Apple stock's dividend

Metric

Apple

Microsoft

Dividend yield

2.1%

2.5%

Payout ratio

25%

67%

3-year average annualized dividend growth

9.4%

16.1%

Annual dividends per share

$2.28

$1.44

Data for table retrieved from Reuters. Table source: Author.

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Today, Apple is a strong dividend stock. While the company's dividend yield of about 2.1% is close to the average dividend yield of companies in the S&P 500, investors should note how low the tech giant's payout ratio is; paying out just 25% of its earnings today, there is significant room for Apple to increase its dividends in the coming years. Another way to look at how easily Apple could increase its dividend is by looking at its annual dividend payments and free cash flow. Of Apple's $50 billion of trailing-12-month free cash flow, it paid out just $12 billion in dividends.

In other words, Apple investors should expect plenty more dividend increases in the years ahead. Indeed, management has promised exactly this.

Apple dividend history

Between 1987 and 1995, Apple paid quarterly dividends, starting at a quarterly dividend of $0.06 in 1987 and ending at $0.12 in 1995. But between 1995 and 2012, Apple did not pay any dividends.

Apple resumed its dividend in 2012 at $2.65 per share on a quarterly basis. Notably, Apple's stock split 2-for-1 two times by the time it reinitiated its dividend.

Today, Apple pays a dividend of $0.57 per share on a quarterly basis. But investors should again note that Apple split its shares 7-for-1 in 2014. Without this share split, Apple's quarterly dividend payment today would be close to $4.

AAPL Dividend data by YCharts

If you're wondering when Apple pays its quarterly dividends, here's the schedule of its last four payouts. Future quarterly dividends should be paid approximately around these same dates of the year.

Apple dividend payout amount

Payment schedule

$0.57

August 8, 2016

$0.57

May 9, 2016

$0.52

February 8, 2016

$0.52

November 9, 2015

Data for tableretrieved from Apple's investor relations page. Table source: Author.

A new era

Apple's long stretch of not paying any dividends reflected Jobs' opposition to them. During Jobs' second tenure at Apple from 1997 to 2012, the tech giant didn't pay a single dividend, even as its cash hoard ballooned to over $50 billion in 2011.

"The cash in the bank gives us tremendous security and flexibility," Jobs said in 2010.

But by 2012, and after Jobs had passed the reigns to Tim Cook, Apple finally reinitiated its dividend, making it the company's first dividend since 1995. The combination of Jobs' passing in 2011 and a cash hoard exceeding $100 billion in 2012 marked the beginning of a new era for Apple. Overnight, Apple became a formidable dividend stock -- and it looks like it's going to stay this way.

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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.