Asian tech stocks bolstered by Apple dividend plans

Technology stocks in Asia get a boost amid mixed markets, as positive sentiment spills over to sector, following Cupertino's plans to restart dividends and buy back US$10 billion of its stock, according to reports.

Flushed with nearly US$98 billion in cash, Apple has decided to initiate quarterly dividends to shareholders as well as buy back stock that will altogether pay out some US$45 billion over the next three years. The positive sentiment has carried over into Asian tech stocks, noted reports.

According to a report Tuesday, newswire Reuters noted that technology sector stocks were among the best performers following the news, with shares such as Samsung Electronics hitting an all-time high. This continued the positive momentum from Wall Street, where the S&P 500 was lifted by Apple's dividend and stock buyback announcement.

In an official statement Monday, Apple announced it will start paying dividends--which it stopped since 1995--at US$2.65 per share during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 which begins on July, and buy back up to US$10 billion of its stock beginning in the next fiscal year.

"We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You'll see more of all of these in the future," said Tim Cook, Apple CEO, in the statement.

"Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program."

With these initiatives, Apple expects to spend approximately US$45 billion over the next three years, company CFO Peter Oppenheimer said in the same statement.

Apple also said that it has sold 3 million of its newest version of the iPad tablet, according to a report by Reuters on Monday.

Its shares rose 2.7 percent to around US$601.10, closing above $600 for the first time.


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