Apple's Blowout Earnings Fuel Push for Dividend Hike
Wall Street cheered Apple’srobust quarterly report, but now investors are waiting to see what the tech giant does with its record amount of cash.
Apple generated $14 billion in operating cash flow in the March quarter, making the company’s total cash position of around $110 billion.
“The best thing they can do is [make] steady increases in the dividend,” said Larry Haverty, portfolio manager at Gabelli Multimedia Trust on CNBC's "Closing Bell." “There's plenty of room for improvement in the payout…Steady increases maybe once every six months and push the stock up between 2.5 and 4 percent yield and we might even get more than $750 [a share].”
Last month, Apple announced it will pay a quarterly dividendof $2.65 per share, starting in the quarter beginning July 1, and added it will begin a $10 billion share buyback program.
Other analysts seemed to agree that Apple should increase its dividend payout.
“We continue to believe that the dividend is conservative and we see plenty of opportunity for growth in dividends as well as buybacks,” wrote BMO Capital Markets in a research note.
At the same time, others wish to see the company utilizing the cash to expand its business.
“We believe that Apple’s balance sheet remains an extremely powerful tool, providing the company with potential leverage to expand into new product areas, build out new retail stores, enter new markets and geographies, sign multi-year supply chain agreements and invest heavily in R&D,” wrote boutique brokerage firm Topeka Capital Markets.
Meanwhile, the tech giant’s blowout quarter quickly spread bullish views once again with at least 14 analysts on Wall Street ramping up their price target on the stock.
Among the most notable, Goldman Sachs lifted its price target on Apple to $850 from an already-lofty $750. And Topeka boosted its price target to $1,111 from a previous forecast of $1,001.
“We believe the negative vibes that have held back the stock over the past couple of weeks will now be replaced with the fear of missing the next leg up in the stock price,” wrote Topeka in a research note.
Apple stock surged nearly 10 percent Wednesday, on track to snapping a five-day losing streak. Apple is now about 6 percent away from its all-time high of $644 a share.
"Pre-earnings announcement, there were some worries in the stock, but now we know the company is hitting on all cylinders so I think we can go right back up again," said Giri Cherukuri, portfolio manager and head trader of OakBrook Investments.
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