Microsoft to Spend Up to $40B on Share Buyback

The software giant is also raising its dividend by 8% as it continues to share its cash hoard with investors.
Matthew HellerSeptember 21, 2016

With its shares trading at multi-year highs, Microsoft is using its cash hoard to repurchase up to $40 billion in stock and boost its dividend by 8%.

The buyback announced Tuesday comes on top of the current $40 billion buyback plan, which the company said it is on track to complete by Dec. 31. There is $7.1 billion remaining on that plan and Microsoft reported $113 billion in cash and investments at the end of June.

Buybacks tend to prop up a company’s stock price by reducing total shares outstanding, thereby increasing earnings per share. In trading Tuesday, Microsoft shares were up 0.7% at $57.19.

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The dividend increase, to 39 cents per quarter from 36 cents, is smaller than other recent increases. Last year, Microsoft boosted its quarterly payout by 16% to 36 cents from 31 cents, after an 11% increase in 2014.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the decline in the personal computer market has hurt sales of Windows but Microsoft’s other software and services generate a steady flow of cash. In June, the company agreed to buy professional social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, underscoring CEO Satya Natella’s bet on services.

Microsoft’s shares rose 0.7% to $57.20 in trading Tuesday, bringing the gain over the past year to nearly 30%.

The new buyback plan has no termination date. “The good news is naturally that Microsoft clearly follows through on proposed share buybacks,” Seeking Alpha said. “The bad news is that the plan sounds significantly better than reality.”

Seeking Alpha noted that the $40 billion amount only equates to roughly 9% of the outstanding shares, the previous plan is taking around three years to complete, and Microsoft “issues a decent amount of stock options each year that somewhat offset the benefits of stock repurchases.”

As far as the dividend, the new yield will equal 2.7% when the first quarterly payment takes place on Dec. 8. “The key investor takeaway is that Microsoft offers a decent yield, but the market offers plenty of higher yielding options,” Seeking Alpha said.