Apple's dividend and share re-purchase plan: the impact on cash growth

Today Apple announced both a dividend and a share re-purchase plan which, when combined, will consume 45% of Apple’s current US cash reserves.

The dividend will be $2.65/share/quarter and the buyback will cost $10 billion over three years. The dividend will therefore cost about $2.5 billion per quarter (starting next quarter) and the re-purchase will cost about $833 million per quarter (starting next fiscal year).

However, note that Apple’s cash has been growing far more quickly. It increased by $16 billion last quarter or $37 billion over the last year. This rate of increase is itself increasing.

To illustrate, I prepared the following chart. It shows historic net income, change in cash and a forecast of the costs of the new uses of cash and future net income (based on my estimates).

I made an assumption that future cash growth will equal net earnings minus costs for the new dividend and share re-purchase. What we should see is that the previously tight coupling between increase in cash and earnings will remain but that there will be a negative offset by $3.333 billion each quarter. In other words, cash will increase but at a slower rate.

This means Apple’s total cash should still grow by more than $35 billion this year.

That would result in the following, more subdued, total cash trajectory (for simplicity, I assumed all added cash would be in cash and cash equivalent accounts)