Now it’s time for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to join the party.
Apple has $121 billion in cash on its balance sheet, give or take a few billion. With about 941 million shares outstanding, that works out to roughly $128 per share. If Apple’s cash was a free-standing company valued at 1x cash, it would have a larger market capitalization than 482 of the companies in the S&P 500.
Apple says they intend to use only their domestic cash on hand and income for repurchases and payouts. That means the roughly $83 billion held overseas is off-limits, leaving $38 billion locally. Though Apple is using cash for R&D and operations, they still added $40 billion in fiscal 2011 and are expected to tack on anywhere from $30 to $60 billion more over the next three years.
That means Apple has more money than any other company on earth and is generating cash faster than any corporation in history. They demonstrably have more money than they know what to do with; if they somehow needed more, they could issue debt for virtually nothing. There isn’t a decision to be made in terms of whether or not they should issue a special dividend, it’s only a question of how big it should be.
If Apple took all the money earmarked to pay out dividends over the next three years and paid it out now, shareholders would get $31.88 per share. If taxed at the current 15% rate, that would leave investors with $27. If that same money is paid out after January 1, it would leave shareholders in the highest tax bracket with $18 after taxes.
You can see the full “Breakout” explanation below: