With a tough quarterly earnings season looming and some dividend stalwart energy companies slashing their payouts, analysts are eagerly awaiting an update from Apple on its plans to hike its stock dividend.
In each of the last two years, Apple has raised its dividend in April.
"People are expecting at least an update [from Apple]," said Scott Kessler, S&P Capital IQ analyst. "Based on past experience, it would be reasonable to expect that in the last week or two of April.''
With nearly $180 billion in cash and securities on the company's balance sheet at the end of 2014, Apple is likely to raise its $1.88-per-share annual dividend. The only question is by how much. The rally in Apple shares, up more than 60 percent in the past year, makes the dividend question a difficult one to answer.
When it began paying dividends in 2012 after a 17-year hiatus, Apple's quarterly payout gave the stock a 1.76 percent yield. In 2013, the company boosted the yield to just above 3 percent.
In 2014, Apple raised the dividend 8 percent, but shares had gone up more, so even with the increase, the yield only got to 2.5 percent. The continued rally in Apple stock has pulled the yield on that dividend down to 1.5.
Kessler thinks Apple will raise the dividend by as much as 8 percent, to 15 percent. If Kessler is right, and at its current stock price around $125, the yield would go to between 1.6 percent and 1.7 percent.
Some investors might think that's downright stingy of the tech giant, especially with shareholders pressing Apple to return more cash.