by Marc Bastow | September 19, 2012 10:27 am
Software titan Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) joined the recent ranks of technology companies including Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) in raising its dividend to reward shareholders sitting through a period of market-lagging share appreciation.
Microsoft’s announcement to raise its quarterly dividend 15% to 23 cents per share payable on Dec. 13 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 15 the company’s 8th dividend increase since it started paying a dividend in 2003.
Faced with slower growth across the board, technology companies that generally like to see profits plowed back into the company for R&D spending or acquisition opportunities are more and more moving towards dividends for investors.
Microsoft is flush with cash,holding nearly $62 billion in cash while generating nearly $30 billion in cashflow, and investors who’ve seen the stock price return around 30% vs. a Nasdaq return of nearly 145% have been clamoring for the company to part with some of the cash in the form of higher dividend increases.
Intel took the hint earlier this year with a 7% increase, while Cisco surprised investors with a 75% increase in August. Newcomer to the dividend game Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) dove in with an out of the box $2.65 cent per share offering.
Microsoft also announced that long-time 11-year Board Member and former Merck CEO Raymond Gilmartin will retire in order to reduce his professional commitments and have more personal time.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is long MSFT, AAPL and INTC
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