In the recent event discussing Apple’s cash plans, Tim Cook stated that the primary objective of the stock repurchase program is to reduce dilution from the ongoing distribution of shares to Apple’s employees and executives as part of their future compensation.
The amount allocated to this is $10 billion over a three year period.
This sets up an interesting analysis. The company is saying that they will continue to pay employees with newly issued shares (in addition to wages) but that a portion of those shares will be purchased back from the market to reduce dilution.
To understand the impact, it would make sense to look back and observe how many shares were issued in this way historically and consider how much $10 billion buys.
The following chart shows the quarterly change in shares outstanding.