Analysts react to Apple’s dividend and share buyback plans

Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune on various analysts reactions to Apple’s plans to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program commencing later this year.
Subject to declaration by the Board of Directors, Apple plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share sometime in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1, 2012.

Additionally, Apple’s Board of Directors has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program commencing in the company’s fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012. The repurchase program is expected to be executed over three years, with the primary objective of neutralizing the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.

• Jefferies’ Peter Misek: Dividend and buyback bigger than expected. We reiterate our Buy. Price target: $699.
• Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster: Dividend achieves primary objective of expanding shareholder base. Maintain Overweight rating and $718 price target.
• Merrill Lynch’s Scott Craig: Capital development a step in the right direction; Buy. Maintain Buy. Price target: $610.
• FBN’s Shelby Seyrafi: AAPL has the wherewithal. We retain our Outperform rating and raise our PT on AAPL from $730 to $760.

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